Skip to main content

Full text of "Basile the Jester: A Romance of the Days of Mary Queen of Scots"

See other formats


Google 



This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on Hbrary shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/| 



22"*^^ 37.if 



HARVARD COLLEGE 
LIBRARY 




THE BEQUEST OF 

EVERT JANSEN WENDELL 

CLASS OF 1881 

OF NEW YORK 



^ 



V41 



asile 



The Jester 



By 

J. E. nUDDOCK 

Author of A ROBiailW 

■•The Dead nans Secret" Of tht DaVS M 

-nalJ narian and Robin Hood" ^^^ Qutin Of $»!$ 
"Stories Wierd and WondertuI" 

hlnvar," etc. 




NEW AMSTERDAM BOOK COMPANY 



Crown Sto., doUi ntra, with Fn«tiq««ce,W6d. 

BASILE THE JESTER: 

A ROMANCE OF THE DAYS OF 
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS. 

Bl ]. E. MUDDOCK. 

THK TIMES. 

'The nninlta oT Renaad on lb* brink oT aiiH art w^ indkaUd ; Ibc bladi, 

•kcoicur Jib* tin* wko iivtrfalLuid If Hr. MnUock b not • Seen, doc ■ 

Danu, banajidiallaifeJuMsOnBt fix prill* of plan.' 

THE aOOKKAS. 

' A Maty of tb* din of Hun Qnoaa of Scat* ; Uodibc (nd rsHuitic, and, of 

cnm*, Tsy loiBl to IIk bawuUlil and wih*pli]> Qtwaa.' 

' Tbc MWlwr bai tain pala* lo niirnaBt uiubftiDr aad d faeii tdr lb* lit* and 
daai of liaiy Ooaa of Scott, lb* Coon i nti igat i o( lb* piftod, lb* plot* and 
comiur-plott of tb« aobka.' 

THE WBSTMISSTBR BUDGET. 
WaanpauAiUbcUtnaHaablapottcaUor QiMaa lUir, wboai be do** boi dtpia 




BY THE SAME AUTHOR. 



THE DEAD HAN'S SECRET. With Pnatiipieee hj F. I 

Feat Sto., pietue boards tt. 
FROU THE BOSOM OP THE DEEP, tatt Stol, Olutnted 

MAID MARIAN AND ROBIN HOOD With 13 OlMtntiou br 
SUnle; Wood. Crown Sto., cklh oln, jt. 6d. 

LONDON: CHATTO ft WINDUS, 110& ill ST. Uabtin's Lanb. 



YOUNG LOCHINVAR 



NOVELS BY J. E. MUDDOCK 

Crown %vo., cloth txtra, with I3 fllustratioHS, y. 6d. 

MAID MARIAN AND ROBIN HOOD 

'Thii chumiiig romanoe of Bliemood Fonit. . . . We out heartllT praiie 
lb* pictnia of Fanntains Abbej ; ludtied, th* toeal ooloar ii admirable Uiroufib- 
ODt, and bia Uiid M«H>" ii a channiiig Ttakui of a ijlTan, prabafw impoaaibl* 
faaL— n* World. 

' Tb> aTer old and jet eTU naw alorjof BoUn Hood TscelTea a traab actting 
at the hauda of Ur. Haddock. . . -The ehapten daaeriblng the daaUi o[ 
Itaitanand thepaMtaigoIBobinare rntj ■otlbitia.'—Th* Aeadtma. 

'AMWTu^onof adelisbtlaloUlegcDd. . . . The whole lite of the peiiod 
la pietarecqad; reeoutrneUd bj the anthor, who hM added to hi« work not 

a bv faitjinwtin0 hialAritf^ Dotea.' — Jfffntu^ PofC 

la and aa iuitmcttTe deaeriptloD of Mntral En^aiiil 



irrtaa.' — Dailji TrltgrapK. 

r. J. E. Unddock hia written one ol the beat bn'e booka we haTo aaeu 

WT. The intrrot of tbe ruder nerer llaga.'— .B<««b o^ Btritm. 

'A wonderful and eicltiog uaitatiTe of the gloriou life imdar the fferD- 
vood tna.'—Letdi Mtrenrf. 

'Thia atirriog and '*'"■" *""g lomance of the olden time. The Murj 
b witttm with aU the TiiaiitT and piotDTaaqiieiMaa that dirtisfniah Itr. 
MoUodl'* UtMMj prodncttana.'— DaaJr* Oimritr. 

Pott ive., illustrated boardi, zs.; cloth, is. bd. 

STORIES WEIRD AND WONDERFUL 

■There la real inTenlion in theae little talea, wUeh have UtecMT aa weD aa 
'(laTailj eontilTed.''->iaHiciiak 



'WalaanimiiaQalljsoad coDaetion ol alotlot. . . . All thaaa atoriaa are 
im (oU. •—Moni<^o,t. 
'T«M with ooluhferable literary aUll. and all the eketebea [wwaaa UiriUiiic 



wa rt . Thl* 11 a capital booii tor the aeaaide. — ^ni^«i». 
Mr. Itnddoth bai done eneeUent work in bii day, and thia Tolanie of abort 
Vtaa ia aa w«U writtcu aa eTcrjthliu he tooebaa. — ICIkitfAalJ Aviaw. 

*na atoiiaa are told in a plain, atrauhtforwaid war. aa it there waa Dothlug 
riHtllM about the facta. . . . The booh tbovld be •oenMliiL — 0M««Mik 

■ l^llaldiwk'i pen U ai graphic aa it ii earia.'— Oiavr HtmU. 

Post ivo., illustralid boards, 21. 

THE DEAD MAN'S SECRET 

■ .. ^1, 2),^ llau'i Swrct " Is ■ wild and wottderfol romnnn. It i» -rirt 
*ttUm, Tan weU told. The (chuolboj bto whinw bauda il leta oagbt to baTa 
agMd luaaboB tba Brat page tu the lait. So maj Iboae who. tlMNiffa im 




^ 

^ 






NOVELS BY J. K MLDDOCK—coniiHucd 

loiiger schoonwys. stfll retain the schoolboy love for the marvelloms aud 
adTeutoroas.' — J/aily Js'etet. 

' A capital bo(A is "The Dead Man's Secret " . . . The tale is exciting in 
description, and thoroughly manW in tone.'— Aeademy. 

* This iiamtiTe can fearfessW challenge comparison with any of the stirring 
tales of adyentore that aboond in our day. ... It introdaces the reader to 
the still unfamiliar resion of the Republic of Ecuador, of whose magnificent 
natural features, inhabitants, and local customs he gives many and graphic 
descriptioDB.' — Morning Pott, 

' Vividly written by a pen that frequently reminds us of Defoe, combined 
with the weird terror of Poe in his Tales of Wonder. . . . We need not here 
disclose the full secret of the Dead Man, but recommend the book strongly to 
all who love vigorous writing.'— Fublic Opiniou. 

'The characters are well differentiated, and (here is a chief merit) the 
narrative never loses that tenseness and briskness without which stories of 
adventures are apt to grow duIL The book ought to succeed.'— Scotsman. 

' The expectations to which the title of Mr. Muddock's story gives rise are 
more than realized before the reader closes the volume, for seldom has any- 
thing more startling been served up. . . . Mr. Muddock's straightforward 
circumstantial narrative makes everything appear so plausible that no idea 
of strangeness occurs to the reader as he is hurried along from one exciting 
scene to another.' — Glasgow Herald. 

Post %vo,y illustrated boards^ 2s. 

FROM THE BOSOM OF THE DEEP 

' The story is well told, and shows considerable inventive ability.'— £^/Hrt/u^ 
BevUu). 

* Mr. Mnddock has written a delightful book. In it he gives an adequate 
and admirable study of a man whose nature is rotten at the core, and who is 
as fond of evil deeds as a child is of bonbons ; and he traces his career, step 
by step, ever downward, from the time when the child gives indication of 
what the man will be, till the man himself is laid bare in all his glaring sin 
before the eyes of the doting old man. who believed almost to the last that 
his son was an honest, straightforward fellow. But it is not only in this 
sens^that the book is dehghtfoL It is because it fulfils i-very purpose that a 
novel should fulfiL . . . Louis Stevenson— the great and the uuapproadiable 
in the art of thrilling description ! —never penn«l a finer page thui the one 
which describes the men of the Pearl boarding the deserted ship, and what 
they found thereon. ... He draws his characters with a power of indi- 
Tiduahsm which marks the bom novelist, and writes so vividly that he pro- 
clsims himself at the outset to be a man of peculiar genius.'— fTAi^Aa// Be- 
dew. 

' Isaac Greth is finely drawn, and the story is altogether a very readable 
and enjoyable one.' — Qlatgow Herald. 

' Nor is it possible not to feel somethin|[ more than a passing interest in the 
self -devotioii of the Old German millionaire, whose portrait is drawn with a 
skill and power that of itself would raise the book far above the level of the 
commonplaoe.' — Yorkshire Post. 

' A novel of more than average merit. . . . Full of incidents aud interest. 
— Ifefccastls Chronicle. 

* Bright in style, vigorous in narrative, and attractive in plot. . . . The 
characters are not meray figures, but such men and women as one meets in 
ordinary hfe. . . . Mr. if uddock in this as in his former novels ^-rites in a 
clear, pleasant, and vigorous BijU.'— Birmingham DaUg Post. 

London : CHATTO & WINDUS, Piccadilly. 




•BASILE THE JESTER 



/ t 



- ^ 



Basile The Jester 



A ROMANCE OF THE DAYS OP 
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS 



J. E. MUDDOCK 

AUTHOR OP 

"THX DEAD UAN'S SBCRBT," "MAID UARIAN AND KOBIN 

HOOD," "STOBIES WIRRDAMDWONDBRFUI,." "FROM 

THS BOSOM OT THB DBEP," " STORMUCHT," 

" FOR GOD AND THS CZAR." 



IIJ.V8ntATION3 BY STAKUnr WoOD AMD 




NEW YORK 

NEW AMSTERDAM BOOK COMPANY 

156 FIFTH AVENUE 

LONDON: CHATTO & TINDUa 



HARVARD COilcai MiMlV 

FROM 

THE BtQUttf Of 

EVERT IRRSfi WliOf l| 

llil 



Copyriflilit, 1897 

BT 

Nxw Amstb&oak Book Compajtt 



CONTENTS 



I. TBB WOHAH tl 



T. tnC BtlAOOW 



t aOOl -, BOT. LIKR * PLtCKIl) 



XTI. BIB UAjmi QIVBH A 



viii 



CONTENTS 



It 



CHAPTCK 

XXXUL HOW THE LAMB DBCHTXD TUB WOLF 

XXXIV. * AN I AM NOT W1TLK88 I SAW *'rOX" WRIT LABOK UPON 

H18 BROW* 
XXXV. HOW THE 1>X>WIJER H1M8BLF WAS 8NABBD 
XXXVI. THE BEKUGEBS ... 

XXXVII. AN ALARM AND A PLEASAKT 8CRPn>B 
XXX VIII. TUB RIFT IN THB LCTK 
XXXIX. A MT8TBRIOU8 WARNING 

XL. THB LBSCH AND THB BABL • 
XLI. THB QUEBN AND THK CLOWN 
XUL INTO THB SHADOW OF DOOM 
XUII. THB PLOT THICKBNS • 

XUV. BBARDBD BY ONE WHO KRARED HIM NOT 
XLV. 'I GRASP THE SCKPTRB AT LAsT ' • 
XLVI. THE MOCK TRIAL 

XLVIL * GKNTLBMBN, I DRINK TO TOU. WHEN NEXT WE ASSEMBLE 
TRUST TOU WILL BE ABLR TO GBEET MB AS YOUB KINO * 
XLVin. *TWIXT HOPE AND FEAR 
XLIX. THE QUEEN MAKES A BOLD PROCLAMATION 
L. HOW THE EARL OP BOTHWELL WAS TRAPPED 
U. INTO CAPTIVITY 
UI. IN THE serpent's COILS 

LIII. * AMBITION : BY THAT SIX KKLL THE ANGELS ' 
LIV. FRANCOIS TAKES A BOLD MKP 
LV. IN THE GRIP OP HIS FOB - 
LVL AN AWFUL JOURNEY 
LVU. PARTED FOR EVER • 
LVin. FROM DESPAIR TO HOPE 
UX. THE coward's TRIUMPH 

LX. HOW FRAN9OIS BEARDED THB BABL IN HIS HALL 
LXI. A STORY OF WRONG AND 8HAME 
LXIL * BE SILENT AS DEATH, AND FOLLOW ME LIKE MY SHADOW 
LXIII. * THY NAME IS BAOJN, AND THEY CALL THBK PIG ' 
LXIV. • FOR RIGHT AND RESCUE * - 
LXV. THE SIGN THAT BASILE SF.NT 
LXVL THE REV'ENGING BAND 
LXVII. *LIKE A WOUNDED TIGER* • 
LXVin. THE MYSTEBIOUS JACQUES • 
LXIX. TUB MISSION OF JACQUES, AND HOW IT WAS CARRIED OUT 
LXX. RETBIBUTION .... 

LXXL IN THE WOOF WERE WOVEN UGHTB AND SHADES 



PAOB 
16s 

169 

189 

202 
206 
209 

III 

221 

227 
232 
236 
241 
246 
251 
256 
260 
266 
272 
279 

^ 
289 

«9S 
301 

307 

314 
320 

326 
332 
337 
343 
351 
359 
367 



BASILE THE JESTER 



THE WOHAN IN THE CHOWIh 

' Vive le Dauphin et la Reine d'Ecosse ; long live the Dauphfn 
and Queen of Scotland ! Shout, good people 1 Blend your 
voices in one mighty burst of enthusiastic joy 1 Rend the air 
with the forcible expression of your fecUngi, for I vow this is 
the happiest day that has ever dawned on fair France. Husia ! 
shout, 1 say. Wherefore doat thou laugh at me, good master 
blacksmith i How do I know that thou art a blacksmith ? 
Because thou hast a leathery smell, and the wrinkles of thy 
face and neek are like the furrows of a ploughed field — they 
are full of dirt Nay, lose not thy temper, thou beater of iron 
and maker of horseshoes. I am as good a man as thou art 
Husaa! Crack your lungs, dear people, for this is a right 
merry day. By my cap and bells, I vow I am so happy that I 
could e'en embrace that grimy blacksmith, though his face be 
somewhat uglier than yonder gargoyle.' 

Thus spoke Basile, a jester at Uie Court of Heniy II. of 
France, as he cut merry antics, for the amusement of the 
people, in front of the great cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. 

The year is 1558 ; the time, April 84. The occasion, the 
marriage of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, with Francis, 
theeldestsonof Henry II. of France. The weather is glorious, 
and spring has touched all Nature with a wand of gold. The 
soft aaure of the sky is flecked with ficecy cloudlets, and the 
Seine, as it rolls its laxy course to the sea, reflects the blue and 

1 



2 BASILE THE JESTER 

white of the heavens in its unruffled surfiM^e, for of wind there 
is none. The air is stagnant and dreamy, and heavy with the 
perfume of the enormous masses of flowers, especially violets 
and primroses. Turn which way the eye will, there is a be- 
wildering and dazzling display of colour. Flags and banderols 
by millions flutter from poles and lines. From the turrets 
of Notre Dame float the royal standards of France and 
Scotland, and there is not a house in the whole neighbourhood, 
nay, probably in all Paris, that is not decorated with bunting. 
The whole facade of the grand cathedral is covered with 
crimson cloth, intermixed with cloth of gold. Over the main 
entrance a gigantic arch of flowers has been constructed, the 
flowers used being violets, primroses, daffodils, snowdrops, and 
lilies of the valley. The effect of the combination is rich and 
chaste beyond all description. In front of this floral arch, and 
stretching the whole length of the cathedral front, is a raised 
platform covered with cloth of gold. The platform extends 
outwards for nearly fifty yards ; then a flight of wooden steps 
descends to the ground. The steps are covered with crimson 
cloth, which is carried along for another hundred yards. Each 
side of this enormous platform is built up with artificial flower 
banks that are crowned with palms. An avenue, forty yards 
across, and extending for a quarter of a mile from tbe platform, 
is roped off, the rope being of crimson silk, in which is woven 
a gold thread. On each side of this avenue, at intervals of a 
yard, stands a halberdier, armed with a polished steel halberd, 
and clad from head to foot in polished steel armour. Between 
the soldiers, on both sides, kneels a beautiful girl, clad all in 
white, and enveloped in a gossamer veil. Each girl holds a 
basket of flowers, which are to be scattered over the crimson 
cloth when the royal pair leave the cathedral. 

Outside of the rope, on either side, is a densely packed, gaily 
dressed and good-natured multitude. Every window of every 
house, as well as every roof, is also filled with sightseers. The 
lighthearted Parisians have turned out in their tens of thousands 
to make merry and do honour to the rare occasion. This day 
France and Scotland are united in the persons of the beautiful, 
gifted girl, Mary Stuart, and the handsome boy, the Dauphin 
now, but soon to be Francis II. of France. This day a page 
is being written in history that is destined to be ever a con- 
spicuous one in the world's story. 

Paris, used as she has been to see grand sights and rich 



THE WOMAN IN THE CHOWD S 

pageants, has never seen this one surpassed, nor probablj' 
even equalled. It is in keeping with the profligate and magni- 
ficent and luxurious Court of Henry II. No expense has 
been spared, nothing left undone to give imposing pomp to 
the ceremony, and to dazzle, with glittering and unique 
splendour, the eyes of all beholders. 

The event which is being celebrated is one that the world 
has but rarely seen. Francis, the Dauphin, is heir to the 
throne of France, and Mary Stuart, although a minor, is the 
crowned Queen of .SeoUand. Thus, it is hoped, the two 
countries are wedded in a bond of the closest union, and 
the interests of the two thrones are identified. Mary is as 
yet little more than a child, being under fifteen, while the 
Dauphin is only slightly her senior. To matchless beauty she 
allies a grace and learning, combined with wit and talent, that 
are almost unparalleled even in an age celebrated for its 
clever women. 

If the external scene on this auspicious day, with all its 
gbttering wealth of colour and its military display, was striking, 
how much more majestic and imposing was that presented by 
the ceremony in the interior of the cathedral ! Here the most 
awe-inspiring and religious songs, and the most impressive 
dbplay of worldly treasures, were blended into a picture such as 
few human eyes had looked upon before. The wlmle of the nave 
of the great cathedral was huiig with white satin, alternated 
with crimson velvet and cloth of gold, while the floor itself was 
completely covered with cloth of gold. The King and Queen 
of France were present in all the regal magnificence of state. 
They were surrounded by the princes of the royal blood and 
all the nobility, while priests and cardinals were present in 
hundreds. Three hundred beautiful youths, dressed in pure 
white raiment, swung golden censers, while a thousand trained 
voices chanted the impressive service. The proud Cardinal of 
BourtMm pronounced the nuptial blessing, and then the brilliant 
aasembly,and the sweet young bride herself, hailed the Dauphin 
' King of Scotland.' 

While the marriage was thus being solemnized in the 
cathedral, Basile, with others of his class, was amusing the 
surging masses outside. Basile was a young man, probably 
under thirty years of age, with a shapely figure and an exceed- 
ingly handsome face. He came of a race of jesters; his father 
befinv him had been a jester in the Court of Francis L 



4 BASILE THE JESTER 

Basile, who was gaudily dressed^ was strutting about on the 
crimson cloth as proud as a peacock. He wore a capote of 
orange-coloured silk, that came down over his shoulders in the 
form of a cape. His jacket was parti-coloured, one half being 
red, the other yellow, and one hose was blue, while the other 
was white. 

As he puraded up and down with an assumed air of im- 
portance, he bandied jokes with the people, who made him a 
butt for their own coarse wit, and roared with laughter when 
he addressed them. Now and then he pretended to get very 
angry, and shook his bells in a menacing way. Like all 
Court fools, he was privileged to do and say almost anything 
he liked, but in return he had to take the buffets that were 
frequently bestowed upon him, and the scorn with which 
his class was universally treated. These hired buffoons could 
say things to a king that would cost another man his head ; 
but their lives were hard, and frequently they died in poverty 
and disgrace. 

Basile's sally about the blacksmith had caused much laughter, 
though the man whom he had addressed seemed ill-pleased, 
and retorted warmly : 

* Go to, thou poor fool ! Thy wit is shrunken even as thine 
own shanks. I am no blacksmith, fellow, but a tailor.' 

' A tailor ! Oh, oh, oh, oh !' laughed Basile. ' Well, now 
that I look at thee, I perceive clearly that thou art but the 
ninth part of a man. A tailor, pah ! Why dost thou not become 
a turnspit ?' 

' Why a turnspit ?' roared the tailor, losing his temper. 

' Because then thou wouldst only have the running to do, 
the basting would be done for thee by others.' 

' Out on thee, thou scum of a scullion wench !' retorted the 
man, feeling uncomfortable at the fire of chaff that was now 
levelled at him from all sides. 

Basile was in right merry mood, and seemed immensely 
amused by his own wit. Suddenly, however, the laughter died 
out of his face, and an expression that was half pain, half fear, 
came into it His eye had caught somebody in the crowd. 
That somebody was a woman, but in the surging sea of 
humanity she was quickly swept out of sight again, until he 
himself doubted having seen her, for he muttered : 

* No, it was a fancy. It could not be she ; and yet the face 
-pshaw ! I am growing morbid. She is dead.' He 



THE WOMAN IN THE CROWD 5 

Kcmed comforted by this reflection, and broke into laughter 
agmin, until, inadvertently, he trod on the toes of a stalwart 
halberdier, who, pushing him until he all but lost his balance, 
exclaimed irritably : 

' Fool, get out of the way !' 

Recovering his equilibrium with wonderful agility, Basile 
stiffened his legs and hips, and then bending down his 
head, after the manner of an acrobat, he said, with mock 
reverence: 

' I obey thine order immediately, O mighty warrior, for I 
always haste me to get out of the way of evil things.' 

This happy sally turned the laugh against the soldier, and 
the jester scored a point. And now the bells buret forth into 
jubilant melody, announcing that the Queen of Scotland had 
become the possessor of two thrones; while France's prospective 
King was the husband of Scotland's Queen. Then from the 
church there poured forth the crowd of nobles, the Dauphin 
and his beautiful young bride, surrounded by an armed guard 
of French nobility, leading the way. This was the signal for 
flowers to be showered down from the turrets and roof of the 
cathedral. There was a perfect stonn of flowers, and the sun 
shining forth in unclouded splendour at this moment, and ac- 
centuating all the wonderful wealth of colour, and flashing 
In floods of dazzling light from the armour and weapons of the 
soldiers, completed a picture so gorgeous, so rich, so artistic 
in its magical blending of brilliancy and tone, of light and 
shade, that its equal had never been witnessed. While, 
mingling with the clashing of the bells, rose two thousand 
trmined voices in a choral song of thanksgiving and joy. 

Flushed with conscious pride, the beauteous Qneen leaned 
on her husband's arm, and gased on the animated sccntt. 
Well might she feel proud at that happy moment, which gave 
no sound, displayed no sign, of the stormy future that was to be 
hen ; nor did there loom in her vision of that which was to 
come, the block and axe which were to end her career, when, 
lonely, deserted, and broken-hearted, she would welcome 
death as a relief from weariness and pain. 

She was tall and beautiful beyond compare. Her features 
were cast in a classical mould, her face was lighted up 
with rare intelligence. Her hands were elegantly shaped, 
her eyes piercing and keen. She was attired in a ni1>e 
of white satin with a train many yards in length. The train 



6 BASILE THE JESTER 

was borne by twelve maidens, six on either side. Each 
maiden wore a dress that was covered with natural flowersiy 
most artistically arranged. Thus, one was primrose, another 
violet, a third lilies of the valley, a fourth tulips, and so on. 
The extreme ends of the train were borne by two beauteous 
boys dressed as Cupids. Round her brow Mary Stuart wore, 
clasped, a tiara of extraordinarily pure diamonds, and she was 
enveloped in a transparent veil of gossamer that was studded 
with seed pearls of great value. 

At the sight of this bewitching girl, radiant with beauty that 
almost seemed unearthly, the dense masses of human beings, 
who everywhere pressed forward to obtain a sight, broke out 
into thunderous shouts of welcome, that were taken up and 
echoed and re-echoed from every balcony, every window, 
every roof, every point, in fact, where a human being could 
obtain a foothold. Hundreds of thousands of handkerchief 
and flags were waved, while the air was thick with flowers 
that were showered down by the people in their wild 
enthusiasm. ITie senses grew Uterally bewildered with all 
the motion, the glitter, and the tumult of bells, voices, and 
cannon which thundered forth salutes on each side of the 
flashing Seine. 

Presently a superb coach, all gilt and crimson velvet, and 
studded with precious stones, and hung on high bow springs, 
was wheeled up in front of the platform. Into the coach the 
Dauphin and his bride stepped. It was drawn by twelve milk- 
white ponies with trappings of real gold lace, and white satin 
trimmed with imitation violets. The coach was preceded by 
a hundred mounted gentlemen clad in silver armour. On 
each side of the coach, mounted on white ponies, rode a jester, 
Basile being on the right ; and as they moved along these 
men scattered pieces of money amongst the people, being 
provided with a bagful for the purpose. Following the coach 
came another bodyguard of a hundred nobles mounted on 
black horses and wearing gilt armour. In the rear of these 
were the King and Queen of France, each riding a splendid 
w^hite horse that was covered with cloth of gold, while each 
horse wore on its forehead a diamond star of fabulous value, 
and its hoofs were shod with shoes of solid gold. The proces- 
sion was brought up by the ladies and gentlemen of the Court, 
all dressed in the most gorgeous apparel ; while two thousand 
troopers, wearing polished armour, formed the rear escort 



THE WOMAN IN THE CROWD 1 

As this wonderful procession moved slowly along amid 
showers of Sowers, the multitude of sightseers shouted them- 
selves hoarse, and struggled to gain a nearer view. At one 
point of the route the pressure was so great that the line of 
Boldien was broken. And while the confusion thus caused 
was at its height, a woman with bare head, and a wealth of 
black hair streaming over her shoulders and down her back, 
was seen to be struggling frantically to get in front, balding 
a child up at arms' length. There was a wild expression in 
her face, which waa red and blotched as if with dissipation. 
She was calling out at the top of her voice, but the roar of the 
surging people drowned what she said. Basile saw this woman, 
and the expression of fear that had suddenly come into his eyes 
when he was bandying words with the tailor came again, and 
he seemed to sway on his hone as if he were about to fall. 
Evidently the sight of that woman influenced him, and he 
looked nervously around aa if meditating flight. 

In the meantime the excitement amongst that section of 
the crowd Increased. The soldiers were beating back the 
crowd with their hackbuts, and the people were growing 
angry. By what seemed almost superhuman strength tbe 
woman continued to force her way forward. So wild and 
ezciteil did she appear that those near her thought she was 
mad, and many shrank from her. The child (a boy), which 
she still held up, was screaming lustily, evidently with (right, 
as well he might, for the hubbub, the confusion and excite- 
ment were tremendous. Women screamed and fainted, and 
men, being jostled roughly, lost their tempera and fought 
fiercely with each other, thus adding to the general alarm. 

The procession had come to a standstill, and there was 
much curiosity expressed to know the cause of the disturbance. 
Basile by this time was deadly pale, and seemed strangely 
uneasy. He kept his eyes fixed on the struggling and ap- 
parently frantic woman, and the nearer she came the more 
alarmed he grew. It is difficult to understand what connec- 
tion there could be between the handsome Court fool and 
this strange woman in the vast crowd ; and yet there was 
the fact that her movements influence<l him. The woman 
continued to struggle to the front, her objective point to all 
appearances being the coach in which sat the young (juern 
and the Dauphin, her husband. Her clothes were almost 
torn from licr Ixtly, and w«rc banging in shrcils, and |>erhpira- 



8 BASILE THE JESTER 

tion was streaming down her begrimed face. She succeeded at 
last in reaching the line of procession just where it had been 
broken by the inbursting of the mob. Several gentlemen 
forming the bodyguard were vainly endeavouring to restore 
order, but their horses, frightened by the swaying masses and 
the yelling and shouting of thousands of excited people, were 
prancing wildly, and their riders' attention was kept on the alert 
to prevent the restless steeds from trampling on the people. 

As the woman gained the line, a halberdier seized her with 
the intention of thrusting her back. But with a shriek of 
defiance she twisted herself free from his grasp. In doing so, 
however, she lost her balance, reeled and stumbled, and there 
broke fit>m her blanched Ups an agonized cry of blank de- 
spair, for she had gone down amongst the prancing horses, 
and before a hand could be stretched to save her she was 
trampled upon and crushed into a bleeding mass. 

Baisile the fool witnessed her fall, and springing from his 
nag, he rushed forward, but too late to save the woman, if 
that was his intention. He snatched up the child, however, 
which, strangely enough, was uninjured, and holding the boy 
above his head, freed himself from the human tangle, and 
breathless and exhausted got back to the coach. 

CHAPTER IL 

THE SEAL OP DEATH. 

Bas&e was deathly pale. The excitement and the exertion 
he had gone through had perhaps caused this. But he was 
also strangely agitated, and his presence of mind seemed to 
have forsaken him. The child he had rescued was screaming 
furiously. It was a bright, curly-headed boy of about eight 
years of age. 

' What is it, Basile — what is it, Basile ?' asked the young 
bride, as she peered anxiously out of the coach. 

'If it please you, madame, there has been an accident,' 
answered Basile, making a desperate effort to suppress his 
excitement and speak calmly, though his effort was a failure. 

' An accident !' exclaimed the young Queen in distress. 
* Mercy upon us ! is that sweet child hurt ?' 

' No, madame,' Basile replied. ' He is frightened, but not 
hurt' 



THE SEAL OF DEATH 9 

' How came jrou by him ?' 

' I rescued him, nuulame, from the feet of the horses.' 

' Thou hast done well, Basile ; but surely the poor child 
was not alone ?' 

' No, madame, he was held by a woman — his mother, 
probably — and she has been killed.' 

' Killed !' cried the Queen in great distress. ' Alas, poor 
mother I Is there no one with her to claim the child, Basile ?' 

' I think not, madame.' 

' Then, by the ^race of God we will take him under our 
protection till his relations are found. What say you, dear 
nuaband ?' she asked, addressing the Dauphin. 

'Even as my sweet love says. Her wi^es are mine.' 

'That is well,' the Queen remarked. Then, turning to the 
jester, who still seemed excited and confused, she said; 'Basile, 
motion one of our equerries that we desire speech with him.' 

Baaile did as he was told, but it was in a mechanical sort 
of way. An officer rode up and made a profound salute. 

'Sir,' said the Queen, 'it is our wish that this dear child, 
wboae mother, alas ! seems to have lost her bfe in the crowd, 
■hall be well cared for. Give him into the care of one of our 
ladies-in-waiting, and later on we will issue a proclamation, if 
In the meantime his relations do not come forward to claim 
him.* 

The equeny bowed, and, receiving the boy from the hands 
of Basile, he rode back and placed him in charge of one of 
the ladies-in-waiting, as the Queen had commanded. 

While this little scene was being enacted, the mother of 
the child— if she were his mother — liad been picked up and 
home away by kindly hands. The people bad been forced 
back into position again, and order being once more restored, 
the procession moved on. Basile had somewhat recovered 
himself, and having mounted his pony, he was making a sorry 
attempt at wit 

The stopping of the procession, and the news, which flew 
like wildfire, that a woman had been killed, had for a moment 
checked the ardour of the great crowd ; but no sooner did 
the cavalcade get in motion once more than the enthusiasm 
of the peo|>le found renewed eTprcwion in a mighty upraising 
of tens of thousands of voices. Mary, (Juccn of Scots and 
Dauphiness of Franre, who had been tcmiiorarily depressed 
by the untoward incident — for she looked upon it as an evil 




51^""' 




•ij, but his face ¥ 

(lissijiation. Tlierc was 

- wjw a (■ouimoii typi? of 
f ItHik ond threaubare 

•»liii wfis n butt of bad 

fnt, for it wiw very diffi- 

-iipb a night of revelry, 

iirnlinn were remote. 

i"oin in n preoccupied 

it !>y the bedside, and 

■ i from the lips of the 

■ inerccnary.or he would 

icre show«d that he was 

- he [lauaed, as if listt-n- 
^p from the strt-i^t. And 

^^tU foot with impatieuce, 

^H tKkei to turn them into 
^Mnken mirth Hniiuys roe ! 
iTtti wiiic, but I Ix-nr with 
I <n il)-w(irld, niid Fortune 

ric K*VT favour mr ? Who 
Kwy chnngc my destiny i 
<*«• niAy piiKvibly br^nj; roe 
V) the l)Auphiiies«, for thr 
^c3 alMut the poor woman.' 
, and itaiied for Mimi! IIiimt 
ih*^ hl» Diibligt : ' I woniler 
^^ a fair face, and la yiitiliff 
■'» 1^1. iw hrr history.' 

< c'li that her LyRa wi^re 

it liim. He wiped \i«t 

. .i.iil water- Tbcu he 

dnutk eagerly, umI her 

> ami UlMcfaws, became 

and iJic 

Sedng thu, lie 

the tnuUcred itMU&tinclly : 




to BASIL ETHB JESTER 

omtai — quickly recovered her spirits m the thundering sc- 
cUnutioas nng in her ean, and her eyes took in the mu- 
veUous scene. She felt proud &nd happy at this homage of ft 
great people ; and as she leaned on the luxurious cushions of 
Sie gUded coach, she dreamed of the pomp, the magnificence, 
and the greatness that would be hers. Meanwhile, the 
wretched woman who had been crushed beneath the horses' 
hoofe had been borne into a neighbouring house. It waa 
found that, although she was fearfully injured and insensible, 
she was not dead. Somebody undertook to go in search of « 
surgeon, but the crowded state of the streets rendered this no 
easy task. When it became known, however, that a surgeon 
was required, a young man pushed his way through the crowd 
and offered his services, saying that he was a doctor. He was 
about six or seven and twenty years of age, and from his 
dress and general appearance he seemed to be in poor and 
needy circumstances. 

Night had fallen on Paris, but the darkness was dispelled 
by the millions of small lamps which were used to illuminate 
the dty, and by the great bonfires which burned in the 
squares ; for the people were revelling, and the streets were 
fiUed with merry, noisy, chattering crowds. Seats and tables 
were placed in the streets, and the light-hearted people were 
feasting and drinking and thoroughly enjoying themselves in 
a reckless, rollicking way. 

In a dismal room, high up in one of the lofty houses in the 
neighbourhood of Notre Dame, the woman who had been 
injured lay on a truckle-bed. It was the apartment of some 
kindly people who had placed it at the disposal of the poor 
creature, and having performed this act of charity, they were 
now enjoying themselves in the streets below, for it was not 
every day a royal marriage took place, and even a mangled 
human being could nai be allowed to damp one's spirits. 
The ill-starred woman was young, certainly not more than 
thirty. She had been good-looking, if not positively hand- 
some. Her hair was dark and luxuriant, and her features 
very regular. Her face was like marble now, and rendered 
ghastly by smirches of blood. One side of her head had been 
injured by the kick of the horse. Some of her ribs had also 
been broken, and had penetrated the lungs, and dark venous 
blood was oozing from the lips. In the room, which was 
faintly illuminated by a small oil-lamp, was the surgeon who 



THE SEAL OP DEATH II 

had volunteered hia services. He was & m&n by no means ill- 
fWvoared so far u looks were concerned, but his face wore an 
expression of anxiety and traces of dissipation. There was 
nothing veiy striking about him. He was a common type of 
man, and, judging from his hungry look and threadbare 
ck)thes, he was suggestive of one who was a butt of bad 
fortune. He was slone with his patient, for it was very diffi- 
cult to get the services of anyone on such a night of revelry, 
especially as the prospects of remuneration were remote. 
Smnetimes he walked up and down the room in a preoccupied 
sort of way ; and at other times he sat by the bedside, and 
with the sponge wiped the ooiing blood from the lips of the 
injured woman. He certainly was not mercenary, or he would 
not have been there, and his being there showed that he was 
of a kindly disposition. Occasionally he paused, as if listen- 
ing to the roar of revel that came up from the street. And 
once, after so listening, he stamped his foot with impatience, 
and muttered in a tone of disgust ; 

* Pah, the canaille ! How little it takes to turn them into 
swine I How the noise of their drunken mirth annoys me ! 
They drown their cares and misery in wine, but I bear with 
mine as best I may. Heigho, it is an ill-world, and Fortune 
mocks those who sue to her. Will she ever favour me ? Who 
knows but that this very accident may change my destiny ? 
My attention to this wretched creature may possibly bring me 
under the notice of the Dauphin and the Dauj)hiness, for the 
young bride Lt sure to make inquiries about the poor woman.' 
He seated himself beside the bed, and gazed for some time 
on the sufferer. Then he continued his musing: 'I wonder 
who and what she is f She has had a fair face, and b young 
and shapely of limb. I should like to know her history.' 

He was about to rise, when he noticed that her eyes were 
open, and she appeared to be looking at him. He wiped h<T 
lips and sponged her forehead with cold water. Then he 
administered a stimulant, which she drank eagerly, and her 
breathing, which had been stertorous and laborious, becinue 
more natural. It was evident that she was conscious, and she 
appeared to be making an effort to speak. Seeing this, he 
bent his head down, and presently she muttered indistinctly : 

'I have been hurt.' 

She spoke with great difficulty, and gave indications that 
she was suffering extreme pain. 



12 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Yes/ he answered, ' you are injured.' Then after a pause, 
and as if deeming it better that she should know the worst, 
he added : ' Your injuries are grave in character, and I fear 
me that your hours are numbered.' 

She did not seem in the least degree affected by the in- 
formation, but putting forth her cold, white hand, she touched 
his arm, and said : 

' I feel that, I know that my hurts will prove £EitaL Per- 
haps it is better so. But tell me, who are you ?' 

' I am a surgeon, and freely give my poor services, hoping 
by the will of God to restore you.' 

Something like a bitter smile passed over her bloodless face 
as she remarked : 

' But you find I am too much broken ever to be mended. 
I am broken here, too ;' and she placed her hand over her 
heart, and drew a sigh which caused her to moan from pain 
in the wounded lungs. 

' Can I do aught to comfort you ?' he said tenderly, much 
moved by her condition and her suffering. ' Shall I gpt you 
the services of a holy father or a sceur de charity f 

' No,' she said quickly ; ' I trust in Heaven ; and ere you 
could return from searching for a priest to shrive me I should 
be deacL But you can give me comfort in the short time that 
remains to me.' 

She spoke spasmodically and with great difficulty, and 
every now and then gulps of blood came into her throat, all 
but suffocating her. He saw that her end was rapidly ap- 
proaching, and seized with a sudden desire and curiosity to 
know who and what she was, he said : 

' Speak quickly, ere the little remaining strength left to 
you ebbs away.' 

It seemed at that moment as if her last word had been 
spoken, for a glaze came into her eyes, and blood poured from 
her mouth. He gave her some cordial, however, and she 
ralhed and spoke, but with still greater effort and difficulty. 

' Are you honest ?* she asked. 

' I hope so. As honest as a man can be in so wicked a 
world,' he replied, feeling that her question presaged a reve- 
lation. 

' And faithful ?' she continued. 

' Even faithful also, as I believe.' 

'I am dying, and fi 'endless,' she said; 'and you are a 



THE SEAL OF DEATH 13 

■tnnger ; but even « stranger may have pity on a crushed 
and much'Wronged woman. I had determined this morning 
to personally make my plaint to the sweet Dauphiness. She 
is young and beautiful and a liride, and happy and free from 
care, and I feel sure she would pity me and aid me. But 
tell me/ she exclaimed suddenly, ' what of my boy ; he was 
surely not injured t' 

' Calm yourself. Not a hair of his head was injured, and he 
b in the dear young Queen's keeping.' 

The poor dying woman uttered a cry of joy at this in- 
formation ; but the cry was stilled by the surging blood, and 
turned into a wail of pain as the effort produced excruciating 
agony in the torn lungs. 

For fully ten minutes she seemed to literally wrestle with 
death, and the surgeon expected every gasp she gave would 
be her last ; but once more she rallied, and wearily turning 
her dying eyes upon him, she whispered, so faintly that he was 
obliged to put his car close to her lips to catch the words her 
fleeting breath formed : 

' Fearing that 1 should not be allowed to speak to the 
Dauphiness this morning, I wrote a letter intending to put it 
into her hands, in the hope that my sad story would move 
her to see justice done to me. If that letter has not been 
taken from me, or is not lost, you will find it in the bosom of 
my dress. Promise me solemnly — promise me, a dying woman, 
that you will with your own hand deliver that letter to the 
ScotUsh Queen.' 

' I promise you,' he said with great solemnity, and a degree 
of earnestness that evidently struck her, for she pressed his 
hand with her feeble fingers, and said : 

'The Blessed Virgin be praised ! Nowindeed I can die happy.' 

The effort that this cost her again increased the liii-mor' 
rhage, and her face was contorted with pain. Used as the 
young surgeon was to death-bed scenes, he was nevertheless 
deeply moved at this poor creature's atrocious sufferings. 
And as the roar of the thoughtless multitude floated uji, he 
displayed great irritability, for here in the awful presence of 
death the shouts of gaiety and pleasure seemed to him incon- 
gruous. Moved by sym(>athy, he took her cold hand and 
pressed it between his own. This poor creature was an utter 
■tranger to him. She was a waif whom the current of events 
bad drifted into his path. But be himself was poor, friend- 



14 BASILE THE JESTER 

less, and sick to weariness with struggling against adverse cir- 
cumstances. For he had no patron^ no one in high place to 
give him a friendly lift, and so perforce had to feed on his 
own heart in nameless obscurity. He had a fellow-feeling, 
therefore, for the strange woman around whom the impene- 
trable shadows were closing. The world had used her ill, and 
that fact in itself was sufficient to beget his true sympathy, 
even if the physical agony she was enduring had not done so. 
He felt, too, that his skill was set at naught, and that he was 
powerless to even ameliorate her sufferings. He did, how- 
ever, administer some more cordial to her, and it appeared to 
have a slightly tranquillizing effect Utter prostration had set 
in, and she lay motionless save for the twitching of the muscles 
of the face, which was due to spasms of pain. She lay like 
this for about a quarter of an hour. Then she raised her 
white, heavy eyelids, turned her fast-glazing eyes upon him, 
and, making a supreme effort, uttered in audible tones the 
one word — ' Remember.' 

The eyelids dropped again, she gradually sank into a 
comatose state, and in half an hour more was dead. 

' Poor thing !* the surgeon said piously. ' The saints receive 
you, and God rest your soul.' 

He remained motionless for some minutes until he remem- 
bered the letter she had referred to. He had no difficulty in 
finding it. It was in a pocket in the inside part of her dress. 
It was a large, square letter, folded, and tied with a piece of 
blue silk ribbon, and superscribed in a small neat hand 'To her 
most gracious, and wise, and beautiful majesty, Queen of Scots 
and Dauphiness of France, who is beseech ed in the name of 
the dear Virgin Mary to read this letter.' 

The surgeon went under the little oil-lamp and read the 
superscription, turning the letter round with prying curiosity. 

' I wonder what it is about,' he muttered. Then with an 
exclamation of annoyance — annoyance with himself — he sud- 
denly thrust it into the pocket of his cloak, as if wishing to 
put temptation away. He paced up and down the room, 
evidently ill at ease. Suddenly he stopped, and reproduced 
the letter. Temptation was conquering him. He stood irre- 
solutely, and for some minutes held the missive between his 
thumb and finger. 'Pshaw !' he exclaimed. ' This is probably 
the story of that poor dead waif. Why shouldn't I know it ?' 

He satisfied his conscience with this reflection, and, hesi* 



THE SEAL OF DEATH 15 

tating no longer, untied the ribbon and opened out the folds 
of the [^per. It was a large sheet, such as was usually used 
for letten of importance, and it was tilled up with line writing. 
As the surgeon read, his face seemed to undergo many changes. 
Astonishment, pleasure, cunning, exasperation, maliciousness, 
were in turn depicted on his countenance, ond when he came 
to the last line of the writing, some absorbing thought was in 
his mind, for he crumpled the letter in his hand, his lips were set 
with some half-formed resolution, his eyes burned with internal 
excitement Presently he stamped his foot, and muttered : 
'Why did I yield to temptation, and read this?" 
He straightened the sheet of paper out again, and tied it 
up with the ribbon, and then, as if he wanted air, he went to 
the small diamond-paned window, threw it open, and leaned 
out in an attitude of reverie. 

It was a long way to the street below, and the roar of the 
mighty multitude was like the fretting surf on a rocky shore. 
The sky was cloudless, and the moon had the appearance of a 
silver shield. Paris itself, with its tortuous streets and far- 
reaching environs, was suggestive of a map traced in tire ; for 
the small lamps used for the illuminations stretched for miles 
and miles in unbroken lines, crossing and re crossing each other 
at various angles, until the eye was bewildered with the ravel 
of the threads of light At various points huge bonfires blazed 
and made great circles of lurid glow in the landscape. In 
addition to this, there were long, moving rows of lights as 
mummers on horseback, and carrying waxen torches, wended 
their way slowly through the densely packed thoroughfares. 
From the island in the Seine, discharges of fireworks took 
place every now and again. Tliere were great bursts of blood- 
red flame, fiery darts, revolving wheels, glowing stars, fiery 
serpents, and the thunderous roar of cannon and bombs. 
Mingling with all this were yells and screams of excited 
people, and loud laughter, and the blowing of trumpets. Hevel 
and song and music, and the c1a.shing of bells from every 
steeple in the city, filled the air withadeafeningand iK-wildur- 
ing clamour. The surgeon gaxed on the marvellous scene 
before him ; then he turned his eyes to the still more mar- 
vellous scene of the dark blue heavens, where burned the 
glorious and mysterious stars, and the regal nioon was like 
unto a disc of burnished sUver. Presently he muttered to 
hinuelf meditatively : 



16 BASILE THE JESTER 

' What a strange world this is ! How lightly these tens of 
thousands of people take their pleasure and abandon them- 
selves to the hour, as though there were no to-morrow, no 
shadows, no intrigue, no deception, no wickedness, no heart- 
aches and bitterness worse than death ! There is true peace 
there,' indicating the white corpse on the bed, 'and there,' 
looking down on the throbbing world at his feet, ' is hot blood 
and human passions, hatred and uncharitableness, and the 
hollow mockery of hypocrisy.' 

He remained silent for some time, his eyes fixed on the 
Seine, where, catching in its ripples the light of the moon, it 
looked like a wrinkled mirror. 

' Shall I tempt fate ?' he murmured after a time. ' Pshaw ! 
how should I tempt fate, for has not fate placed a golden 
opportunity in my hands to-night ? Fortune has buffeted me 
hitherto. This day destiny threw that poor woman in my 
way. The information contained in her letter may give me a 
chance to rise. Shall I avail myself of that chance ? There 
are heights to be reached by ambitious and daring men. Why 
should I not attempt to reach them.^ This woman was 
friendless ; so am I. Her death may give me new life, and by 
a bold move I may emerge from obscurity.' 

He turned from the window, and paced up and down for a 
few minutes. He was evidently ill at ease. He was wrestling 
with himself — wrestling with some feeling that was, so to 
speak, his better self He stopped before the corpse. He 
gazed intently on the rigid, white, ghastly face, with its half- 
opened eyelids showing the glazed eyeballs, and its stony 
expression of intense agony, which death had not softened 
away. 

' Poor thing!' he mused, 'shall I profit by your misfortunes? 
The dead tell no tales ; and those cold blue lips of yours will 
never be able to impeach me.' 

He drew forth the letter once more, and re-read it Then, 
as he restored it to his |)ocket, there was a look of stem deter- 
mination on his countenance. 

' I will attempt to climb,' he muttered, ' even though in so 
doing I fall to my death.' 

He covered up the face of the dead woman — put on 
his cloak, went down the many wooden stairs, and d rifled 
out into the human current that was flowing through the 
street 



•I KNEEL AND SALUTE YOU' 



CHAPTER IIL 

*I KNKEL AND lALtm YOU AS MY OOOD ANOEt.* 

Although on the moming following her marriage the 
Dsuphiness of Fnuice was much occupied in receiving the 
congratuUtfons of the ambassadois tnaa various courts, and 
giving audience to the commissioners from Scotland, she did 
not forget her prot^g^, and, sending for the lady-in-waiting who 
had charge of the boy, she made inquiries respecting him. 

' He is a sweet babe, madame,' said the lady, ' and full of 
pretty prattle. But he sadly lacks strength, as if he had been 
ill-nourished. Nay, I am sure that that is so, for be has 
taken food ravenously.' 

' What age has he, think you f asked the Queen. 

'An it please you, your Grace, I should say he has well- 
nigh completed his eighth year.' 

' And speaks he well i' 

' He has said but little, madame, for he has cried incessantly 
for his mother.' 

' Alas, poor mother ! alas, poor child ! Has any news been 
obtained of the injured woman ?' 

'As your Grace's message reached me, I heard that a man 
bad arrived at the palace and craved audience with you, 
madame. He also brought the news that the woman died a 
few hours after receiving her grievous hurt.' 

The Queen seemed much distressed at thb intelligence, 
then, turning to the lady, she asked : 

' Is the man who has arrived a relation of the dead woman?' 

' I know not, madame ; but, an it please your Grace, I will 
learn his business and acquaint you with iL' 

' That shall you do, and you shall bring me the news within 
an hour' 

The lady bowed, and retired to execute her commission, 
and Mary Stuart proceeded with her husband to give audience 
to many important personages who were waiting to be 
admitted to her presence, including a special emissary from 
the Pope. 

The roan alluded to by the lady-in-waiting was ndne other 
than the surgeon, who had arrived at the palace in good time 
la order that he might forestall any proclamation being issued. 



18 BASILE THE JESTER 

which, under the circumstances, it was to his interest to pre- 
vent, if possible. 

This man's name was Philippe Renaud. He was a member 
of an old and honourable, but exceedingly unfortunate family. 
They had been strong partisans and politicians, and as they 
generally managed, somehow, to be on the wrong side, they 
had suffered accordingly. Philippe's father had been secretly 
assassinated by some fanatic when Philippe was but a few 
years old. Soon afler this his mother died from grief, and he, 
being an only child, was brought up by a poor but proud 
aunt, who on very slender means managed to educate him, and 
send him to Paris to study the art of surgery. But while he 
was yet young this aunt died, and the youth was left without 
means or friends to fight his way as best he could. And hard 
indeed the fight had been ; for a poor and nameless man had 
little chance in days when patronage was considered of more 
consequence than talent. 

The young lady into whose charge the boy had been given 
was Adrienne de Bois. She was a great favourite with the 
Queen of Scots, whose senior she was by about five years. She 
was at the Court when Mary Stuart arrived, so that they had 
grown up together, and a firm friendship existed between 
them. 

Adrienne had the misfortune to be exceedingly plain. 
Certain people who envied her the position she occupied, as 
confidential maid-in-waiting to the young Queen, went so far 
as to say that she was positively ugly. Fine, dark flashing eyes 
and white, even teeth were her chief charms; in all other 
respects her features would not bear criticism. She had a win- 
some manner, however, and was patient and gentle. Owing to 
her want of beauty, she had been somewhat put upon, and made 
a drudge of by her companions, and no doubt that was one of 
the reasons which induced Mary Stuart to extend her patron- 
age and friendship to her. In return, Adrienne had given her 
young mistress faithful and grateful service. 

When Adrienne left the Queen's presence, she went at once 
to the chamber where Philippe Renaud was waiting the result 
of his application for permission to see her Grace. He had 
obtained entrance by stating that he had come in reference 
to the child whose mother had been killed on the previous 
day. 

'I am commanded by the Dauphiness, sir, to learn your 



'I KNEEL AND SALUTE YOU' 19 

business,' said Adrienne, addressing Philippe, who had risen 
and mftde a profound bow as she entered. 

He was pale and agitated, and his eyes wandered about 
restlessly, as though he felt out of place. 

'Is it not possible, mademoiselle, forme to see her Highness?" 
Philippe asked in tremulous and nervous tones. 

' I fear not, unless your business is of a most urgent 
character. But I am her confidante, and you may safely make 
me the bearer of your message.' 

Renaud rested his eyes on Adrienne "s face for some moments, 
then he asked with great eagerness : 

' You say yoa are her Highness's confidante f 

'Yes.* 

'And have influence with her?" 

'To some extent I have,' Adrienne replied cautiously. 

'Then let me plead to you, mBdemoiselle,' said Renaud, 
dropping on one knee and bowing his head after the manner 
of a supplicant; 'let me plead to you, in the fervent hope that 
you will carry my prayer to the Dauphiness. Your l)eauty 
and your gentle manner assure me that I shall find in you a 
sympathizer at least, if not a friend.' 

Adrienne de Bois was flattered, for it was not often compli- 
ments were paid to her. 

'You seem in trouble, and to have sorrow,' she remarked ; 
' therefore, if I can serve you in aught 1 will do so.' 

'Ah! I knew that your sweet face bespoke a heart all 
goodness and charity. I am stricken with a grievous sorrow, 
■weet lady. The world is against me, and misfortune has 
crushed me.' 

' Nay, say not so,' replied Adrienne sympathetically. ' I'he 
world is surely against no man who is honest, and a strong 
man should defy misfortune.' 

'Alas! mademoiselle, 1 have found the world very cruel, 
and the crowning misfortune came to me yexterday when niy 
dear wife was crushed to death in the ]>rocessiun.' 

'Your wife I' exclaimed Adrienne. 

• Even so, sweet lady.' 

'Then, the sweet child who is now in my keeping is your 

' He ii, mademoiselle,' Benaud answered in a low tone. 
Adrienne interpreted his agitation and confused manner to 
the aormw he felt ai he thought of his loss, and she was touched. 



20 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Poor boy !' she remarked, alluding to the child ; ' sad indeed 
it is when so young a babe lacks a mother's care.' 

* Ay, lady, sad it is/ Renaud sighed. 

* Do you wish to remove him now ?' Adrienne asked. 

' If her Grace so wills it, then must I comply/ said Renaud. 
' But, lady, I am very poor. Fortune has passed me by, and 
bitter poverty and I have long been companions. 'Tis better 
that I and my child find relief beneath the waters of the Seine/ 

' Speak not in such a manner, sir,' Adrienne exclaimed with 
warmth. ' A man who is yet in his first manhood should not 
talk so glibly of destroying the life which God has given him, 
and much less of taking that of so sweet a child. ' 

'Better to give him peace if I cannot give him bread,' 
whimpered Renaud. 

' Better to give him a stout heart and resolution to carve 
bis way in the world,' Adrienne cried indignantly. ' Nay, I 
think now that you are not fit to have control of your boy in 
your present frame of mind, and I must in duty speak to my 
dear mistress, the Dauphiness.' 

* You shall do with me or my child what you will,' said 
Renaud, in a well-affected tone of despair. 

' What trade have you, sir ?' Adrienne asked. 

' I have the trade of a surgeon, lady.' 

' Of a surgeon, say you ? In faith, then is surgery in a sorry 
plight if it has done no better for you than that which you re- 
present to me.' 

'I have lacked patronage, mademoiselle,' replied Renaud, 
' and I have struggled in vain against an adverse tide. Hunger 
and want have almost made me hopeless, and in the extremity 
of my bitterness and grief I beseech her Grace the Dauphiness 
to give me some chance of bettering my condition.' 

' That I am sure she will do,' said Adrienne, speaking in a 
kindly tone again ; ' that is, if you are deserving of it I shall 
carry to the Queen a faithful account of what you have said, 
and I doubt not that in very gratitude for the great happiness 
she is now experiencing she will endeavour to relieve you of 
some of your miser}'.' 

' Heaven decree that it may be so !' Renaud exclaimed ; 
' but tell me, lady, can I not approach the Queen's Majesty 
myself, and with ray own lips tell my own story ?' 

* That I know not, but I will plead your cause.' 

' Let me inquire, also^ to whom I am indebted for greater 



*I KNEEL AND SALUTE YOU* SI 

kindness than I have ever met before. I erave the honour of 
knowing your name.' 

' I am called Adrienne de Bois, and I am raoid-in-waiting to 
the Dauphiness.' 

' Adrienne de Bois, I kneel and salute you as my good 
angel,' said Renaud impressively, as he suited the action to the 
word, and, kneeling before her, touched with his lips her 
jewelled white hand. 

She was by no means displeased with this act of homage, 
and she began to feel more interest in the man. 

' Rise,' she said, ' and I will conduct you to where your child 
is bestowed. He will be no less joyed to see you than you to 
see hint' 

'Ah, Mademoiselle Adrienne,' moaned Renaud, rising to his 
feel, ' I almost fear I have allowed my sorrows to make me 
for the moment forgetful of my little Francois. But it is long 
since I saw him — four years come Martinmas.' 

' Four year? !' exclaimed Adrienne, turning in astonishment, 
as she was in the act of leaving the room. ' How comes it so ?' 

' Because, lady ' Here Renaud hesitated and got con- 
fused again. He had thought out the part he had set himself 
to play, and he knew perfectly well that it would be necessary 
to state that he had not seen the child he was claiming as his 
■on far a long time, otherwise the boy would refuse to acknow- 
ledge him as his father. But he had neglected to invent a 
plausible reason far so long a se]iaration. But now, as he 
rapidly grasped the position he was in, and saw the prospects 
of realising his daring scheme endangered by his want of a 
reason, he proved himself to be a man of ready resource as 
well as an unscrupulous one. ' Up to yesterday,' he continued, 
«fter a pause, ' I foolishly thought that Francois was not my 
son. I don't know how nor when this idea first came into my 
head, but for four years it has haunted me like a pitiless 
demon, throwing a great shadow over my life, and goading me 
into despair. So for all those years I have refuseil to look 
upon the face of the boy, and I lield myself aloof from my un- 
happy wife.' 

' Oh, green-eyed monster !' cried Adrienne bitterly, ' how 
much misery art thou responsible for in this world ! Hut what 
of thy suspicion. Monsieur Renauil — was it justified .*' 

' In faith, no,' he answered, bowing his head as if in contri- 
tion. • Yesterday 1 learnt how great had been the wrong I 



22 BASILE THE JESTER 

had done my sweet wife ; for when she lay in the agonies of 
death, and knew that all hope for her in this world had passed, 
she vowed to me solemnly, and in the name of the blessed 
Virgin, that she was an honest woman. I repent me of my 
cruel suspicion, and my tears testify to my sincerity.' 

With the consummate art of a perfect actor, he assumed an 
expression of weeping, and threw into his voice a tremulous- 
ness that was well calculated to deceive. He even surprised 
himself by his success. It was his first step in anything like 
real deception, and as he saw that that step was likely to lead 
him towards the heights on which he had cast longing eyes, 
he became more bold and reckless. The first plunge was over, 
and now by striking out fearlessly he might swim to fortune, 
if not to greatness. 

Adrienne was much touched by his apparent sincerity and 
sorrow, and she said in tones which tpld that she herself was 
•affected : 

* Alas ! repentance cannot give you back your wife, nor wipe 
out those four years* wrong and misery. But there ! I have 
no right to judge you. Come, now, and, looking upon your 
sweet child's face, vow to devote your life to him, and to pray 
ceaselessly for the repose of the soul of the poor woman whom 
your unfounded suspicions wronged.' 

She led the way out of the room, and Renaud followed her. 
A smile of triumph played about the comers of his mouth, for 
he felt that in the soft-hearted Adrienne de Bois he had made 
a valuable ally, and he resolved to use her. 

CHAPTER IV. 

'it IS NOW OR NEVER TO SIT BESIDE THE STARS.' 

Adrienne led the way to a small tapestried chamber, where 
on a luxurious couch lay Fran9ois the child, while an old 
woman sat beside him, and was doing what she could to amuse 
him. 

Francois seemed to have got over his fright of the previous 
day, and was laughing at some grotesque story the old nurse 
had been telling him. He was a remarkably pretty child, 
with a mass of brown curly hair. His skin was almost as fair 
as a girl's, and his features were not only regular, but gave 
Indications of precocity and intelligence. He had bright. 



NOW OR NEVER 2S 

flashing brown eyes, and a mouth that sup^gested determhia- 
tion and even obstinacy. He looked older than his years, 
but this was due, no doubt, to a certain meagreness arising 
from the want of proper nourishment 

' Well, nurse, how fares thy charge now ?' said Adrienne, as 
she entered. 

' Right well, my lady,' answered the old woman. ' He is a 
bonny bairn, and sharp beyond his years.' 

' Here is his father,' Adrienne remarked. ' They are almost 
strangers to each other, for, as I understand, they have been 
separated for four years.' 

The old woman rose, bowed stiffly, and exclaimed : 

* Mon Dieu ! Is that possible ?' Then, noticing Renaud's 
broken-down and generally seedy appearance, she added: ' It 
might be well for the boy's sake, perhaps, had they remained 
separated for yet another four years.' 

'Augustine,' cried Adrienne rebukingly, 'how dost thou 
dare venture on such a remark V 

' Nay, pardon me,' answered the old woman contritely. ' I 
meant no offence ; but I thought that if the child remained 
an orphan, the dear Dauphiness would bestow upon him her 
gracious care.' 

' Even as it is that may be so,' said Adrienne. Then, turn- 
ing to Renaud, she said : ' I promised her Grace the Dauphiness 
to return to her in an hour and tell her what I had learned. 
Remain here, therefore, until I come back.' 

' Report me well to her Grace I crave you, sweetest lady,' 
cried Renaud, ' and I shall ever be your willing and devoted 
servant, an it would so please you to accept my servitude. 
But in the meantime may I request to be left alone with my 
child ?' 

Adrienne looked at old Augustine, as if she wasn't quite 
sure how she should act And Augustine, drawing herself up 
proudly, and looking somewhat indignant, remarked : 

'An it is your command, mademoiselle, I will of course 
retire, but I would prefer to remain.' 

' Nay, good Augustine, it is but natural that this poor man 
should wish to be alone for a brief space with his own offspring. 
Besides, he has sad news to impart,' she added, lowering her 
voice. 

The old nurse at once understood, and, bowing, immediately 
left the room. 



24 BASILE THE JESTER 

'^ Where has she gone to ?' cried little Fran9ois, springing up 
on the couch. 

'She will be back anon, sweet pet/ answered Adrienne 
soothingly, as she patted the little fellow's head. ' And in 
the meantime this gentleman is going to talk to you.' 

The boy looked at Renaud for a moment. Then he shrank 
back, and said peevishly : 

' I don't know that gentleman ; I don't like his looks. I 
don't want him to talk to me.' 

* Be good, little one. It is right that this gentleman should 
talk to you/ Adrienne remarked kindly. Then, not wishing to 
have a scene, and as the hour in which she had promised to go 
back to the Queen was already up, she turned to Renaud, and 
said, ' Au revoir, monsieur. I will plead your cause to the best 
of my poor ability.' 

In another minute she had left the room, and Renaud was 
alone with the child whose father he was claiming to be, but 
on whom he had never before cast his eyes. 

' My plot works well,' he thought. Then, seating himself 
by the side of the couch, he attempted to take the boy's hand ; 
but the child drew back, and, crouching in the comer of the 
couch, said fretfully : 

' Go away — go away, monsieur ; I don't like you. You make 
me frightened.* 

' Nay, my pretty Fran9ois,' answered Renaud, * say not so. 
I am your papa.' 

' Then indeed are you a wicked man, for I have heard my 
dear mamma often say so.' 

Renaud was a little disconcerted by this remark, but he said 
coaxingly : 

' Poor mamma ! She could not have meant what she said ! 
There were certain things between me and your mamma that 
caused a misunderstanding. You are too young to comprehend 
these things now, but some day I will tell you alL' 

Fran9ois turned his wondering eyes on the speaker, and asked: 

' Wherefore do you not tell me now ? I am sure I should 
understand.' 

* No, my poor boy, I must not tell you now. Some day when 
you are older you shall know, but not now — not now.' 

Francois was silent for some minutes. He seemed to be 
pondering something in his childish mind. Suddenly he 
exclaimed : 



NOW OR NEVER 85 

' Where is my dear mamma ? Why does she not come to 
me?' 

Renaud considered before speaking what answer he should 
give. Then, assuming a tone of deep sorrow, he replied 
solemnly, as he laid his hand on the child's fair head : 

' Your mamma, darling, will come no more. She has gone 
to God.' 

Into the boy's face as these words were spoken there 
came a look of blank amazement He seemed puzzled and 
distressed. Then the truth appeared to dawn upon him ; 
his beautiful soft brown eyes filled with tears, and with a 
childish wail he cried : 

' Oh, mamma, mamma, my dear mamma ! why have you left 
your little Francois ? Let me go to God too, so that I may 
be with mamma.' 

Renaud was really touched, showing thereby that, though 
he was playing a part in which hypocrisy and deceit were 
essential |9 his success, his heart was not yet hardened. He 
felt his own eyelids quivering, and catching the boy in his 
arms, he pressed him to his breast 

In the meantime, Adrienne de Bois had proceeded to the 
Queen's reception-room, where Mary, fatigued and exhausted 
with the ceremonies she had had to go through, was enjoying 
a little repose in the company of her husband and some of the 
ladies and gentlemen of the Court Small silver cups of wine 
were being handed round, and Basil e the Jester was en- 
deavouring to amuse the company by his wit But he seemed 
ill at ease and absent-minded, and his face was filled with an 
expression of anxiety that was altogether foreign to it The 
Dauphiness had chided him two or three times for being ' dull 
as a mawkish owl,' and he had excused himself by saying that 
his nerves were yet strained from the shock they had received 
on the previous day. 

' Ah, here is Mademoiselle Adrienne !' exclaimed the young 
Queen as that lady entered. 'She will entertain us, I'll 
warrant me. Well, and what news dost thou bring, Adrienne?' 

' I have done your Grace's bidding, madame.' 

' And with what result ?' 

' With the result that I come to plead to your Grace on 
behalf of the poor man whose wife was killed yestenlay. In 
truth his story is a sad one. He is a scholar and a surgeon, 
an it please you. But buffets and misfortune have made him 



^6 BASILS THE JESTER 

very despairing. He is poor and friendless, and has not even 
the wherewithal to get that which would put flesh upon his 
scantily-covered bones.' 

' God's truth, but the poor man shall not long be in so sorry 
a plight r exclaimed the Dauphin. ' Sir,' turning to one of his 
gentlemen-in-waiting, 'see that my purse-bearer gives this 
unfortunate wretch golden pieces enough to ensure him ample 
food for a year at least' 

' Not so fast, dear husband,' put in the Queen. ' Let us 
hear what else Adrienne has to tell. By my faith, I am 
interested in this stranger. Wliere left you him, Adrienne ?' 

' With his child, madame.' 

' His child !' echoed Basile the Jester in such a strangely 
hollow voice that aU eyes were instantly turned to him. His 
face was white. He seemed to be suffering pain, and his bells 
fell from his trembling hand, with a jangling sound, on to the 
floor. 

' Why, what ails the poor fool ^' exclaimed the Queen. ' I 
vow that thou hast caused my heart to leap into my mouth.' 

' Then, indeed, madame, you have the sweetest and most 
precious morsel in your mouth that ever has been there,' Basile 
replied, with a profound bow, and by this apt reply smoothed 
the Queen's slightly ruffled feelings. And, snatching up his 
dropped bells, he broke into a forced laup^h, and said : ' When 
I caused your Grace's dear heart to perform such an extra- 
ordinary acrobatic feat, I was but wondering why so needy a 
sinner as this stranger is should be blessed with so sweet a 
child.' 

* Then, in future, fool, let not thy wondering find vent in 
words so gruesomely uttered,* the Queen remarked. 

* I shall remember your Majesty's command/ B-isile answered, 
as he made a low bow and retired behind the Queen's chair. 

' Seems he fond of the child }* the Queen asked, addressing 
herself to Adrienne. 

* He was much affected, madame,' Adrienne replied, ' and the 
sad loss of his wife appears to weigh heavily u|>on him. I 
would, an it should please your Grace, crave that he be per- 
mitted to tell his own story. In very truth he is to be pitied.' 

'You seem interested in this scholar and surgeon,' the 
Queen said, uttering the words ' scholar and surgeon ' some- 
what sarcastically. 

' He is a scholar, madame, as you yourself may judge,* 



NOW OR NEVER «7 

Adricime replied in a tone that showed she understood the 
Queen's sarcasm, 'and should your Grace be desirous of 
proving his skill in surgeiy, your Grace will be able to devise 
the means thereto.' 

* Nay, rate me not uncharitably, sweet Adrienne,' answered 
the Queen smilingly, as she noticed that her favourite was a 
little hurt. ' Thy penetration, 1 know, b keen, and thy opinion 
reliable ; therefore, 1 will see this poor man. Conduct liim 
hither, Adrienne, while I have leisure to receive him ; and I 
■wear by my father's memory that if he be what you deem 
him he shall not lack food and raiment henceforth.' 

' Will you see him now, your Grace ?' 

'Ay, at oace. What say you, husband of mine ^ 

'Ever as your Highness wishes.' • 

' Haste, then, good Adrienne, before our leisure hour has 
expired,' said the Queen. 

Mademobelle de Bois experienced a sense of delight at 
having gained her object, for as she had interested herself 
in Renaud, she was anxious to bring him under the personal 
notice of the Queen. But, after all, it was not so much the 
man she thought of as the child. Being herself without fortune 
and without beauty, she believed that she was destined to lead 
a single life, ami therefore a very womanly feeling caused her 
to yearn for something on which to bestow her affection. What 
else better could she find than a child suddenly deprived of 
a mother's care P She could teach hiro and train him, and 
watch over his welfare; and employing her mind on this 
agreeable task would give a zest to life ; she would feel 
that the world was not quite a barren wilderness to her, and 
that there was an end and aim in living. 

Some such feeling as this stirred Adrienne as she bowed 
herself out of the Queen's presence, and hurried to where 
she had left Renaud and the boy. She found the man in the 
act of fondling the child, who was disj)laying affection for his 
supposed father, and was asking him many questions in Ids 
childish way. 

' Monsieur Renaud, I have the Queen's commands to conduct 
you into her presence,' she said. 

Renwid turned round quickly, and with a sudden start 
His face was white with a nameless fear — fear of his own 
boldness, paradoxical though that may seem. A few ho urs ago 
he was little more than a waif: hungry, friendless, forlorn. 



28 BASILE THE JESTER 

Now a strange chance had placed withm his grasp the means 
to acquire fortune, even fame. The qualifications required to 
attain this end were unscrupulousness, a belief in himself, and 
a reckless daring. Did he possess these ? Would the cir- 
cumstances create the man, or would the man be able to 
adapt himself to the circumstances ? To sustain the position 
he aimed at would require a mental capacity of no ordinary 
kind, and if he had not that capacity he would fall in his 
attempt to climb — fall and be crushed. But he had already 
calculated the chances for and against ; and on the turn of 
the die he was prepared to risk all. 

'Mademoiselle/ he said, almost breathless, 'how can I appear 
before the Queen's majesty in such raiment as this ?' and he 
pointed to his shfLbby aud threadbare garments. 

' The Queen's majesty is not interested in the man's clothes, 
but the man himself,' Adrienne replied with some emphasis. 
' Come, we must not dally. Royalty waits not, but must be 
waited on.' 

' And the boy, does he go, too ?* Renaud asked anxiously. 

' No. I will summon the old nurse, who will take charge 
of him.' 

Renaud drew his breath in, much in the manner of a man 
about to take a header into the sea, and he thought to himself, 
' It is now or never to sit beside the stars.' 

' I am your humble servant, mademoiselle,' he said, turning 
to Adrienne and bowing low. His heart was palpitating, but 
he was making desperate efforts to conceal his agitation ; 
though at that moment there arose before his mental vision 
a phantom Court dazzling with the splendour of royalty, and 
filled with beauty and youth, and he, in picturesque grandeur, 
a conspicuous figure amongst them all. It was a wild dream, 
perhaps, but many a dream quite as wild had been fulfilled. 

' Come,' said the lady ; ' let us go.' She led the way past 
powdered lackeys and armed guards, and through what 
seemed interminable corridors, until the Queen's reception- 
room was reached. Then she paused on the threshold, and, 
turning round to him, gave him some hints as to how he was 
to dejx>rt himself on coming into the presence of royalty. 
Two tall men-at-arms who stood on guard at the entrance of 
the chamber crossed their pikes and barred the way as they 
observed the dilapidated-looking stranger, notwithstanding 
that he was accompanied by Adrienne. 



NOW OR NEVER S9 

' Whence go you, sir ?' asked one of the soldlen. 

'To the Queen,' Adrienne replied, speaking for him, and 
with some indignation in her tone at what she considered 
officiousness. 

' Hast thou warrant to enter ?' asked the man, aildressing 
himself still to Renaud, and ignoring Adrienne, diough, per- 
haps, not with intentional rudeness. 

Renaud felt extremely awkward. He was painfully con- 
Kious of his incongruous appearance when contrasted with 
all the gilt and evidences of greatness that were around him. 
These men looked spick and span in their polished accoutre- 
ments, their plumed helmets, and their long riding boots of 
fawn-coloured leather. At the doorway hung rich Genoa 
velvet curtains, the value of which would at that moment have 
seemed to him like an enormous fortune, while his lady escort 
wore apparel and jewels worth many thousands of francs. Yet 
he could scarcely rattle two sous together, and his whole 
woridly wealth might have been represented by francs counted 
on his fingers. 'I'he atmosjthere, too heavy with the scent of 
perfume, and rich with the sense of gorgeousness and luxury, 
contrasted strangely with that to which he had been accus- 

From the gloom and care of grinding poverty he found him- 
self suddenly, and as if by magic, in the full blaze and glitter 
of pomp and wealth, and it was impossible to helji being 
dazzled and dazed. In the dilemma he was thus placed 
in by the opposition of the soldiers, he could only turn a]>- 
pealingly to his guide, and she, indignant and wounded in 
pride, said sternly : 

'Stand apart, gentlemen. I am answerable for this man, 
and my presence is his warrant.' 

' Nay, gracious lady, be not angry,' said one of the soldiers 
firmly but respectfully. 'We do but our duty, as you know, and 
without some other warrant we cannot allow bo ill-conditioned 
and so suspicious-looking a person as this gentleman to enter 
into her Grace's private chamber.' 

The man emphasized the word 'gentleman,' and turned up 
bis nostrils with scorn. 

Renaud's pride rose now, and his face burned with anger. 
Poor and shabby he knew he was, but he yet had the in- 
■tincts of high breeding, for good, if not noble, blood ran in 
his veins. He possibly would have resented the snldier'a 



so BASILE THE JESTER 

rudeness, had not Adrienne, stepping forward, said in com- 
manding tones to the soldiers : 

' Perhaps you only do your duty, but you do it insolently, 
sirs. An you think I have introduced a cut-throat to the 
palace, guard him jealously while I go to her Grace to 
procure her personal warrant for his admission. Stand aside, 
sirs, and let me pass.' 

She waved her white arm disdainfully, and, turning to 
Renaud, said : 

' Remain there. Monsieur Renaud, until I return.' 

In obedience to her command, the soldiers grounded their 
pikes, and, making a salute, drew aside the massive velvet cur- 
tain, and she passed in. In that moment Renaud caught a 
glimpse of the brillianc}* beyond ; but, like the Peri at the 
Gate of Eden, he must for the moment remain there dis- 
consolate, his yearnings and ambitions, however, immensely 
intensified by the transient gleam that had been afforded him 
of the richness and seeming ease which lay beyond that velvet- 
screened portaL 

CHAPTER V. 

THE SHADOW OF THE DEVIL. 

Renaud had not to wait long l>efore Adrienne de Bois re- 
turned. She bore the signet-ring of the Dauphiness, and 
holding it up before the men-at-arms, said : 
■ ' Behold the Queen's warrant Now, then, permit this 
gentleman to pass.' 

The soldier who had been the spokesman looked at the ring, 
and then, with a salute, he once more drew aside the purple 
curtain. Adrienne made a sign to Renaud to follow her, and 
she passed through the doorway. With palpitating heart 
he stepped across the magic boundar}', and found himself in 
the presence of the Queen and her husband and the brilliant 
throng of courtiers. His wandering eyes took in the gene- 
ralities of the gorgeous surroundings rapidly, and then some- 
how — he knew not how, for it was like a bewildering dream 
to him — he found himself kneeling at the feet of the beau- 
teous Mary, the Queen of Scots and Dauphiness of France. 
All interest was at once centred upon him, and his shabby 
appearance caused general astonishment, and some of the 



THE SHADOW OF THE DEVIL SI 

powdered and perfumed ladies and gentlemen turned up 
their patrician noses, as this hungry-looking and ill-clothed 
man suddenly intruded himself in their sight, which was 
accustomed only to glitter and gaud. There was one, how- 
ever, who viewed him with mingled astonishment and wrath. 

That one was Basile the Jester. Assuming an air of raillery, 
though he could not conceal his scorn, he cried out : 

' Riddle me, riddle me, lords and ladies. What bird does 
that very worthy gentleman resemble ?'- — alluding, of course, 
to the kneeling Renaud. 

' Well, fool, what is thy answer t' said the Dauphiness. 

'A hawk, an it please you, your Grace.' 

'Wherefore a hawk, sirrah i^ 

' Because, nladame, he looks as though his sole diet had been 
sparrows, and that they had been scarce of late.' 

The lords and ladies would have laughed at this cutting 
satire, which had a double meaning, had it not been that they 
noticed a ^wn on the Queen's face. 

' Peace, varlet !' she said. ' Thou lettest thy saucy tongue 
wag too freely. Thou knowest well that this gentleman is 
here at my bidding.' 

Basile made a profound bow as he answered : 

' Ay, madame, but hawks and doves should not be tn the 
nine neighbourbood.' 

'Thy wit, fool, is ill-timed,' the Dauphiness remarked in a 
tune that warned Basile it were better for him to remain silent 
for a time. Then she addressed Henaud : 

' We hear, sir, with deep sorrow, that a grave misfortune has 
befallen you. We had hoped that our marriage-day would 
not have been marked by any such deplorable incident ; but we 
must recognise Heaven's will in this sad matter, and bow 
humbly to it You are a leech — are we rightly informed ?' 

' In the old Latin,' said Basile bitterly, 'a leech b termed a 
jmgWMi^a — that is, blood-sucker.' 

'Out on thee, varlet!' exclaimed the Queen. 'Thy poor 
jokes fit not the occa.sion.' 

' Heed not the prating knave, sir,' she said to Renaud, who, 
■till kneeling and with bowed head, appeared to be utterly 
bidiflTerent to the Jester's remarks. 

' Yes, your Grace, 1 have studied the business of medicine, 
and hold my letters to that effect,' said Henaud in a low voice, 
aod speaking with difficulty owing to his great embarrassment. 



32 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Have you pursued your calling of a physician ?' asked the 
Dauphiness. 

'I have endeavoured to do so, your Grace/ answered 
Renaud, growing a little more confident, and raising his eyes 
to her Grace's face. 

'Endeavoured?' repeated the Queen. 'Wherefore en- 
deavoured. That seems an indefinite term.' 

' With your Grace's permission I would explain that I have 
lacked patronage, and wanting reputation, I have, alas! failed 
to obtain business.' 

' Perhaps through fault of your own,' the Queen suggested. 

' Nay, your Grace ; an you will permit me, I would say 
that such is not the case. Poor men may rise sometimes, but 
more often their very poverty keeps them down.** 

' It may be so, it may be so,' the Queen observed thought- 
fully. ' Well, sir, proceed,' she added ; ' we are interested in 
you, and would know your history.' 

'I have little history to relate, your Grace,' Renaud an- 
swered. ' I married young ; but a shadow fell between me 
and my wife.' 

' The shadow of the devil,' put in Basile, ' and some of its 
blackness must have stuck to the very worthy gentleman.' 

Renaud raised his head and looked at the Jester. Their 
eyes met, and in that look the two men expressed what each 
felt : ' You and I are deadly enemies.' 

The Queen took no notice of Basile's remark, but, referring 
to what Renaud had said, she exclaimed : 

' That preludes a romance. Gather round, my lords and 
ladies, for now we shall have an interesting story.' 

' Ay, by my faith,' cried Basile, shaking his bells ; ' a story 
with embellishments, done in colours by the author.' 

' Thou chattering pie !'* exclaimed the Queen, pretending to 
be severe ; ' an thou usest thy libellous tongue to no better 
effect, we will have a padlock put upon it, and stop its freedom. 
We pray you proceed, Master Renaud. Tell us what was the 
shadow you speak of.' 

'A suspicion — ill founded on my part — of my wife's fidelity.' 

' Then did you do a grievous wickedness to your wife, good 
sir !' said the Queen. 

' In very truth I did, your Majesty,* Renaud remarked in a 
penitent tone ; ' and yet I thought I was justified.' 

* Maffoie. 



THE SHADOW OF THE DEVIL 33 

' Ay, by my dead father !' exclaimed the Queen with warmth. 
' Men ever think they are justified in suspecting their wives, as 
if women were never aught but passion's slaves.' 

' I would humbly crave your Grace's pardon, if I have said 
that which has offended your Grace's ear.' 

'Nay, go on — go on, good man,' said the Queen a little 
haughtily. 'An I understand you, your affairs prospered 
not?' 

'Even so, your Grace,' answered Renaud, feeling a little 
uneasy lest he had made a bad impression. ' Bad fortune 
pursued me, and custom came not. I fell into despondency, 
and my wife grew desperate. Yesterday, on the occasion of 
your Grace's wedding, and all unknown to me, my poor wife 
endeavoured, possibly in a moment of mental aberration, to ap- 
proach your Grace for some help. Last night, when she lay a- 
dying, she told me with her fleeting breath that she knew your 
Grace was as kind as beautiful ; and that your Grace was full 
of great pity and sweet charity ; and that on such a day, 
when your Grace's cup of happiness was filled to the brim, 

G would not turn a suppliant away. The poor creature 
writ your Grace a letter, in which she prayed you, in the 
name of the Holy Virgin, to help her and her husband — that 
is me — for our child's sake. It was in trying to present this 
letter to your Majesty that my unfortunate wife met her 
death.' 

The Queen appeared to be much touched, and for an 
instant she pressed her handkerchief to her eyes. 

' Have you that letter in your possession ?' she asked. 

The question caused Renaud considerable embarrassment, 
which did not escape the keen observation of Basile, though he 
made no remark. Renaud was conscious that to lose his presence 
of mind at this critical stage would be fatal to his interest, and 
80 he answered quickly and boldly : 

' No, your Majesty, I have it not' 

' What has become of it, then ?' 

' It was so stained with my wife's blood, your Grace, having 
been in the bosom of her dress, that I destroyed it' 

' Were you with your wife when she endeavoured to approach 

' No, your Majesty.' 
* How learned you of the accident Y 

'A kindly neighbour, who was in the crowd, recognised my 

3 



34 BASILE THE JESTER 

wife, and brought me word. My unfortunate wife died in m^ 
arms, and dying told me alL News reached us that your sweet 
Grace had caused our boy to be conveyed to your Grace's 
palace, and with her last breath my wife prayed that her life 
might not have been sacrificed in vain, but that your Majesty 
would be moved to pity the child and its unhappy father.' 

'Your story, sir, has deeply interested me,' the Queen 
remarked, betraying by her voice and manner that she really 
was affected ; ' and I will consider in what way we can answer 
your dying wife's prayer. Mademoiselle Adrienne, thou hast 
the sweet child still in thy care ^ 

' I have, your Grace.* 

' Continue to watch over him, then, until our further pleasure 
has been expressed. And you. Monsieur le Comte,' she said, 
turning to a gentleman at her elbow, ' will do us the favour 
of requesting the Chamberlain to see Monsieur Renaud well 
bestowed for the present. And,' she added, referring to the 
Jester Basile's remark, and speaking in pleasant irony, 
' Monsieur le Comte will order the Chamberlain to be sure 
that there be no lack of sparrows, for even hawks may fatten.' 

' Does your Grace forget that hawks are birds of prey ?' 
Basile remarkecL 

' No ; nor does her Grace forget that thou art in very truth 
a fool,' she replied sharply. 

Renaud rose from the kneeling position which, in accordance 
with Adrienne's instructions, he had maintained during the 
interview, and, bowing profoundly to the Queen, backed out of 
the royal presence. His head was in a whirl, and he felt £Ednt 
with suppressed excitement Vistas of future greatness opened 
before his mental gaze ; and with the prospect of success his 
ambition swelled. It was a dangerous ambition, because it was 
calculated to produce in him a thorough unscrupulousness. 

' What,' he thought ' what is to hinder me from climbing to 
those giddy heights where sit those who are clothed in purple 
and fine hneu } I am not ill-favoured in face and form. I 
have education, and though at present I lack the polish of the 
courtier, methinks I am not such a fool but what I can take 
it on. Hitherto T have been fettered to the kennel. I have 
burst the fetters now, and will soar upward. Ay, ay. Master 
Basile,' and a smile of self-satisfaction played about his mouth. 
' Ay, ay ! I will be a hawk indeed, as thou mayst find. I 
thank thee for having given me that phrase.' 



THE SHADOW OF THE DEVIL S5 

In accordance with the instructions he had received from 
the Dauphiness, the ChamberUin lodged Renaud most com- 
fortably. A chamber, luxury itself compared with what he 
had been used to, was allotted to him, and he soon Tound 
himself faring sumptuously. This tiny sip of Court life, so to 
speak, only served to whet his appetite, and he found himself 
craving for more. He wondered how and in what way her 
Majesty would provide for him, and he grew feverish with 
curiosity. 

For three days he was left without sign or hint ^ to the 
course that was to be pursued. He became a little uneasy, 
fearing that probably some inquiries were being- made about 
him. He questioned Adrienne, whom he had the opportunity 
of seeing frequently, but she could tell him nothing. He made 
a great display of affection for the child, who called him papa, 
and returned the affection with childish warmth. He was an 
exceedingly intelligent Iwy, with a soft, pliable nature and a 
sweet and loving disposition. Adrienne proved very faithful 
to her trust, and bestowed much care and attention upon the 
child. One day, in accordance with the roval comniands, she 
took him to the Dauphiness. He had been provided with 
suitable clotlies, and the Dauphiness was exceedingly struck 
with his remarkable beauty. She kept him with her for a full 
hour, fondling hini and saying many pretty tilings ; and when 
she was dismissing him, she remarked to Adrienne : 

'That is a dear sweet child, and of marvellous intelligence; 
we will keep him in our Court, and he shall be s])eciatly trained ; 
for who can tell, perhaps some day he may be useful to us P 
But of this more anon.' 

Adrienne went out of the royal presence filled with 
pleasurable emotion. She had devel[i|H.-d a fondness for the 
boy that would have made sejMtration from him now exceed- 
ingly painful But the Queen's words filled her with h<i|>e, 
and she thought, with all a woman's pride : ' 1 will mould this 
boy, and make a man of him after my own heart.' 

On the morning following this interview, Itunaud, in the 
belief that be was really the father of the child, rtrceived a 
visit from the Queen's chief physician, who had been in- 
structed to question him and ascertain the extent of his know- 
ledge in medical science, itenaud had nothing to fear from 
this examination, for he uRderstood his business |>erfectly. It 
did not take the physiciao long to discover this ; and the 



36 BASILE THE JESTER 

report he conveyed to the Dauphiness was very favourable. 
1 he result was that in a few hours afterwards Renaud was 
informed that he would receive an appointment as an assistant 
to the royal physicians ; and as some solace for his wounded 
feelings, and the loss he had sustained by the death of his 
supposed wife, he was presented with a substantial sum of 
money in order that he might provide himself with such 
raiment and fittings as were in accord with his new position. 

CHAPTER VI. 

' THOU ART BEAUTIFUL AS A ROSE ; BUT, UKB A PLUCKED ROSE, 

THOU MUST WITHER.' 

Renaud's scheme for self-aggrandisement was a bold and 
daring one ; but a strange chance had placed certain informa- 
tion in his possession which made his course comparatively 
easy so long as he was willing to throw scruples and principles 
overboard. That he was so willing was apparent, and will 
become more apparent as this history proceeds. The qualm 
of conscience that had at first troubled him, when on the 
night of the royal marriage he had stood at the garret window 
and gazed over that wonderful scene of illuminated Paris, had 
speedily disappeared. The various qualities of his character, 
such as cunning, artfulness, tact, diplomacy — for these qualities 
had certainly been there in germ form — developed with 
marvellous rapidity in the Court atmosphere ; and his subtle 
brain was soon busy weaving out plots and schemes for the 
future. 

' Men have liefore now risen from the gutter and stood on 
the very highest pinnacle of human greatness,' he said to 
himself as a sort of text which he intended ever to keep 
present before his eyes. 

The circumstances of his position threw him much with 
Adrienne de Bois. He was the supposed father of the boy 
Francois, and he had to keep up that character, while she had, 
for the time being, been appointed, by the Dauphiness herself, 
guardian of the boy, so that she and Renaud met daily. He 
very speedily came to know that she was a power in the Court, 
inasmuch as she had great influence with the Dauphiness. 
Now, the Dauphiness was wife to the heir to the throne of 
France, and some day would possibly share that throne; 



BEAUTIFUL AS A ROSE 37 

wliile already she was the crowned Queen of Scotland, and at 
no distant date would personally rule over that country. If 
he would gain power, he thought, he must make a firm and 
devoted friend of Adrienne. Nay, he must go even farther 
than that, and win her heart. But whenever he thought that, 
and it was very often that he did so, a phantom voice seemed 
to whisper in his ear, 'Marie Jael." The persistency with which 
the phantom voice repeated that name galled him, until 
the very name became hateful. His dark days of poverty, 
however, had taught him patience, and though he lost no 
possible chance of leaving, by various little artifices, an im- 
pression very favourable to himself on Adrienne's mind, he ' 
acted with all the caution of intrigue and diplomacy. By the 
end of a month the barriers of conventionality between him 
and Adrienne had been broken down, and he was enabled, 
without any breach of etiquette or want of courtesy, to treat 
her with the familiarity of a friend. 

It happened one day, when he went to see Francis, that 
the child was sitting on Adrienne's knee, for she had been 
teaching him to read a missal. As Renaud bent down to kiss 
the boy's forehead, his hand by chance came in direct contact 
with Adrienne's hand, which was plump, soft, and white. 
For the first time he forgot the caution which had guided 
him hitherto, and he said In low tones : 

' Mademoiselle, you have a soft, warm hand. And your heart 
is like it. By Heaven ! it were worth a man's while to perjure 
his very soul to win it.' 

She looked at him, then dropped her eyes instantly, and 
the blood-red blush dyed her fair face to the very roots of 
her hair. 

' Sir,' she said, 'you forget yourself.' 

There was nothing severe in the way this was uttered. It 
was the tone of a coy, ba.shful woman, and he did not even 
affect an apology. At the same time, he had the discretion 
to go no further then. 

Later on, in the solitude of his own chamber, as he stood 
admiring himself before a suspended mirror, he said, with a 
■elf-satisfied smite and s significant emphasis on his words : 

' Adrienne de Bois can be taught to love me,' 

No sooner had he said this than the smile faded out of his 
lace, and in its stead came an expression that was half snvnge, 
half cynical, for that phantom voice whispered again in his ear; 



38 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Marie Jael.' 

Who was Marie Jael ? We will see. 

About seven years before the events that have thus £ur 
been narrated, there lived, in a picturesque village on the banks 
of the Seine, and twenty miles or so from Paris, a young girl, 
then sixteen years of age. She was the only daughter of the 
Chevalier Jael, and was noted for her great beauty. *The 
Chevalier's career had been a wild romance. Bom to high 
estate and great wealth, his future seemed destined to be 
brilliant and happy. He was a native of Flanders, and 
imbibed, in very infancy, the restlessness and warlike spirit 
. which characterized his country at that time. While yet a 
youth he took up arms in the cause of Charles, the son of 
Philip the Handsome, and when that monarch ascended the 
Spumish throne Jael went with him to Spain. He subsequently 
took part in all the tremendous wars that were waged between 
Charles and Francis of France, and was severely wounded at 
the battle of Pavia. Twice he went with the Spanish King to 
Africa; on the last occasion he made his way into Turkey, 
where he was taken prisoner. For years he languished in a 
loathsome dungeon, from which he was set free by a most 
beautiful Greek slave who had fallen in love with him. In 
his flight he took this girl with him, and subsequently married 
her. The result of that marriage was a daughter. Three or 
four years afterwards his wife died. All his estates had at this 
time been confiscated ; and so, ruined and broken in health, he 
retired into obscurity with his child. He went to Flanders first 
and afterwards to France, where he had some relations. 

In the little village in which he took up his residence lived 
another family, poor but proud. These people were named 
Renaud, and they had a son called Philippe. For some reason 
or other the Chevalier detested the Renauds, and they returned 
his dislike with interest This did not prevent Philippe and 
Marie from falling in love. Once her father discovered that 
Marie was holding communication with the son of his enemy. 
He flew into a towering passion, and vowed solemnly that 
before she should become Renaud's wife he would kill her. 
This threat did not separate the lovers, but it made them 
more cautious. 

Marie had an aunt who lived near Paris, and with whom she 
was a great favourite. She took this aunt into her confidence, 
and told her alL The aunt sjrmpathized with her, and pro- 



BEAUTIFUL AS A ROSE S9 

misecl to ^ her. Philippe wss sent by his parents to Paris 
to study, and Marie was in the habit of going once a fortnight 
to visit her aunt Thus the lovers met and carried on their 
courtship. After two or three years of these clandestine 
meetings, Philippe, although he had no means and no pros- 
pects, save what the exercise of his calling might bring, ]>er- 
Buaded Marie to secretly become his wife. She struggled 
against his persuasions for a long time, but at length yielded 
on condition that they remained apart until his affairs im- 
proved and he was able to make a home. She dreaded her 
bther's wrath, for she was sure he would never forgive her. 
But, in spite of all, she was secretly married. 

For a time Philippe Renaud displayed strong affection for 
bte beautiful wife, while her love for him was an infatuation — 
a passion. The fortnightly meetings at the aunt's house were 
■till kept up regularly ; hut Philippe's worldly affairs got 
worse instead of better. Poverty seemed to dog his very 
footsteps, and disappointment followed disa))|>oiritment, until 
he grew cynical, became soured and fretful, and looked upon 
existence as only a burden of woes and cares. Both his 
parents were dead. He hod been led to expect that this 
event would place him in possession of a small sura, that 
might prove a nucleus of something better. But it was 
found ^at his father's estate was so involved that there 
was insufficient for his debts, let alone for anything else. 
This was a sore blow, and it tended to make Renaud more 
reckless and more forgetful of his wife. 

At lost came the incident on the marriage-day of the 
Dauphin and Mary, Queen of Scots. That incident placed 
bim In possession of certain facts which caused him to con~ 
ceive a daring scheme, and to what extent he succeeded in 
carrying that scheme out we have already seen. 

A month hai) now passed since he had met his wife, and 
she, getting anxious, had sent hira letters. She was ignorant 
of his changed condition, and thinking that some new trouble 
had prevented his going to see her as usual, she prayed with 
all a loving woman's earnestness that he would not remain from 
her, or she would go out of her mind. 

This letter caused bin) great uneasiness, because it con- 
vinced him that he must reckon with his unfortunate wife 
before he could make his plans for the future. To him she 
bad Ititherto been all gCDttenass, all love, all consideration ; 



40 BASILE THE JESTER 

but he was perfectly well aware that she possessed a powerful 
will, and a good deal of the fire and resolution which had 
characterized the Chevalier during his remarkable career. 
Renaud saw, therefore, that diplomacy of a very subtle kind 
would have to be used in dealing with her ; for even as- 
suming that she was content to remain quiet under wrong 
and injustice, her father, should he learn of the marriage — 
as under such circumstances he would be almost sure to do — 
would move heaven and earth to utterly ruin and crush his 
unworthy son-in-law. 

In the letter which Renaud had received from his wife, 
she named a night when she would be at her aunt's, and if 
he did not then go to see her, she would conclude that some- 
thing serious was the matter, and would at all risks go to 
Paris to make inquiries about him. 

This expressed determination on the part of his wife left 
Renaud no alternative but to go. He must disarm suspicion, 
if she had any, and keep her quiet for a time at least. He 
became very uneasy and restless as he saw how she must ever 
be a menace and a danger to him. Unless he could succeed 
in keeping her entirely in the dark as to the new career he had 
entered on, she would expose his baseness, by proving him not 
to have been the husband of the woman who had lost her life 
on the Queen's marriage-day, and, consequently, that Fran9ois 
the boy could not be his son. He fairly shuddered as he con- 
templated the consequences of such an exposure. Not only 
would he be utterly ruined socially, but in all probabihty his 
life would be sacrificed to the Queen's anger. 

A month of luxury — that is, luxury as compared to any- 
thing he had ever before been used to — had only served to 
arouse in him an unquenchable ambition to climb still further 
up the ladder, until he reached that firmament of greatness 
where burned earth's stars. 

' I will shine amongst them,' he had said over and over 
again to himself ; but in his reckoning he had not taken due 
account of her who was his lawful wife. But now her letter 
showed him that, though he was on the first rungs of the 
ladder, a millstone was round his neck, and unless he could 
detach it, it would drag him off and down to the nethermost 
regions. 

That he was capable of deep scheming he had given ample 
evidence, but he racked his brain fruitlessly in his endeavour 



BEAUTIFUL AS A ROSE 41 

to concoct a scheme that would effectively secure his present 
position, and render his wife powerless to harm him. That 
he must see her was certain, and so on the night appointed 
he went on foot to the little village where he was to meet 
her. Before leaving Paris he took the precaution to repair to 
his former squalid lodgings, where he changed his Court 
clothes for a suit of his former seedy attire. He had no diffi- 
culty in effecting this, as he had had the foresight to retain 
his lodgings, paying his rent regularly, and accounting for his 
absence by saying that he had obtained a temporary appoint- 
ment. He therefore appeared before his wife without any 
outward sign of his better fortune, save it was in a more 
fleshy and robust appearance. Marie Jael — it was the custom 
in France for a married woman to retain her own surname — 
received her husband with every manifestation of delight and 
affection. He tried to reciprocate this, but the absence of 
sincerity in his manner struck her, for she exclaimed in sur- 
prise: 

' Thou art strangely cold, Philippe. What is the reason of 
this change ?' 

' Nay, love, thou dost me a wrong. But I am troubled and 
anxious. Thou knowest well that fortune does not smile 
upon me, and my lot seems destined to be ever one of carking 
care and gnawing misery. Bear with me, sweet, for thy 
reproaches would make my already heavy burden unbearable.' 

' Ah, husband darling, doubt me not,' she exclaimed, as she 
threw her arms round his neck. ' Thy sorrows are my sorrows, 
thy burden my burden. But speak not so despondingly, my 
heart of hearts. The sun will shine upon thee some day, for 
thou art honest and of noble disposition, and fortune is only 
testing thy metal now. She will not always treat thee so 
scurvily.' Renaud winced and felt uneasy, but he made no 
remark, and Marie continued : ' Thou knowest, my beloved, 
that my dear father's broken health makes it improbable that 
he can long survive. While he lives my duty is to him, but 
whenever the dread event of his death takes place, then thou 
shalt find me at thy side. The httle fortune — the mere 
pittance, alas ! — that I shall possess when my poor father has 
passed away may give thee a start, it may be. I will encourage 
thee to work and struggle — ay, and I will bring thee better 
luck, or I am not a Jael. 

As she spoke she looked lovingly and yearningly into his pale 



42 BASILE THE JESTER 

face ; but bis eyes were averted, for be dare not meet ber 
gaze. She was in truth beautiful, and the man who could 
have turned coldly from such a woman must have been 
strangely constituted. Under other circumstances Renaud 
would not and could not have done so, but now she was the 
barrier that barred his progress on to greatness. The thought 
of self was the one dominant thought in his mind, and all else 
must give way to it. 

Marie Jael was not only beautiful, but picturesquely sa 
She was still girlish in appearance, and her mould inclined to 
that of the Greek type. There were the swelling outlines of 
form, and the wonderful grace of contour which is so charac- 
teristic of Greek statuary. A firm, compact head, around 
which was twisted a mass of black hair, was delicately poised 
on a supple neck with slightly arched throat. The face was 
lacking in none of the essentials which are indispensable 
to perfection in the type she represented. There were the 
exquisitely cut nostrils, quivering with nervous life, and the 
firm small lips closing over even, white teeth without a fault 
in their regularity. Her eyes, deep-set and dark as night, 
were liquid and dreamy in repose, but filled with flashing fire 
when their owner was moved by passion or emotion. In fact, 
no one could look into that face, with all its striking beauty, 
without feeling instinctively that the owner had a power of 
determination within her, and a spirit of self-reliance which, 
if provoked, might be capable of spurring her on to do great 
deeds. The more one looked at her the more one was im- 
pressed with the conviction that she could be a splendid friend 
or a terrible enemy. 

* Ah, dear one,' her husband said, affecting distress of tone, 
'thou art indeed a treasure and a noble wife, and the day 
that sets thee permanently by my side will be a joyous day to 
me. But untU that day come I must struggle to break my 
own fetters. Nay, wife, I am so dispirited by the failures I 
have met with, and the poverty that has encompassed me, I 
vow by the saints that were it not for thy sweet sake I would 
make an ending of my sorrows by self-slaughter.' 

' Husband, speak not thus,' his wife exclaimed chidingly, 
and drawing back from him slightly. ' Life hath its responsi- 
bilities, and thou must accept them with good grace, while 
Hope is a fair star that should ever guide brave men.' 

'Thou teachest me my duty, dear one,' he said. ' Happily 



BEAUTIFUL AS A ROSE *S 

there b already a rift in the dark clouds that have environed 
me, and a little light breaks through. But, heart of mine, a 
sore sadness weights me down, for I must for a time part 
from thee.' 

' Part from me !' she cried in alarm. 

' Even BO, dearest pet ; but be not alanned ; our separation 
will endure not long.' 

' And whither goest thou, my husband ?' she asked sadly. 

' I go to England, dearest one.' 

'To England ; and wherefore voyage you so far as that ?' 

'A certain gentleman of high degree, to whom I have been 
honourably represented, hath business in that country. It is 
some State affair of which I wot noL He travels with a 
retinue, and, being in indifTerent health, takes with him his 
own physicians, for, he truly saycth, they are barbarians in 
Elizabeth's country, and know nothing of the art of healing.' 

'And goest thou as his physician?' Marie asked with some 
mcredulouiness in her manner and tone. 

'As an humble assistant only, sweet wife. But who knows 
an I may not distinguish myself f 

'And when wilt thou set out upon thy journey f 

' I know not yet. The day is still unfixed ; but mayhap it 
will be in about a month's time.' 

' An it is for tliy good, Philippe, I shall not stand in the way 
of thy going, though thy absence will fill me with sorrow and 
anxiousness. But thou wilt think of me, dearest' 

•By my faith, 1 will.' 

' And thou wilt not let any other woman's image come 
between me and thee ?' 

' Wherefore art thou jealous ?' he said with a laugh. 

' Nay, husband, I have trust and faith in thee ; but ' — the 
hidden fire of her eyes revealed itself, and the soft expression 
of her face hardened into one of stem, j>av.ionate detemiina- 
tion — ' but, an it should be so, I would not kill myself, as some 
foolish women do, but 1 would slay her who had dared tii rival 
me in my husband's love. Ah, dear one,' she said, chnnging 
her tone to pleading gentleness, ' forgive my jmssiiig, foolish 
fear. She who loves well is ever jealous.' 

' Poor silly little maid !' be answered as he caressed her. 
'Put thy shudowy fears away for ever. Here thy name is 
writ ' — he placed his hiirid on bis heart — ' and no other can 
poatdbly efface it.' 



44 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Husband of mine, thou makest me joyful indeed/ she 
exclaimed, as she let her head fall on to his shoulder. There 
was a pause ; then she looked up into his face and asked : ' Thou 
wilt see me again before going upon thy perilous journey ?' 

' As surely as I hold thee now. We will meet again on this 
night fortnight an all be well.' 

' Heaven forfend that it be otherwise !' she said reverently. 
Then she wound her beautiful arms round his neck and kissed 
him often. 

Soon the limit of the time allowed for the interview was 
reached, and they had to bid each other good-night. She 
clung to him in fond embrace, then, extracting many promises 
from him, released him, and he went his way. And presently 
as his thoughts were busy with her, he murmured : 

' Thou art beautiful as a rose, Marie ; but, like a plucked rose, 
thou must wither.' 



CHAPTER VII. 
'wild ambition, uke a ravenous wolf.* 

Affer that interview with his wife Renaud grew more and 
more troubled in his mind, and there were moments when he 
almost longed for a return to his dark days of poverty ; for 
conscience then certainly did not vex him, and at night he 
could sleep the sound sleep of the just. Now, however, he 
must intrigue — and intrigue deeply, if he would gain the stakes 
for which he was striving. 

His struggles with himself were those which eveiy man has 
to endure when he first turns from the paths of honesty and 
rectitude and plunges into the by-ways of deception. Such a 
struggle was bound to end, as it invariably does when there is 
much to be gained in a worldly sense, in the fall of the better 
part of the man. Renaud had been but a few weeks at Court, 
but it was long enough to beget within him a craving thirst 
for jwwer and wealth ; and he knew perfectly well that if he 
would satisfy that craving he must smother down all scruples. 

So far he had made excellent progress, and had proved that 
he possessed in an eminent degree the qualities of a courtier. 
He had learned to perfection, even in that short time, the art 
of dissembling ; nor was he slow to perceive that the Court 
itself was a very hotbed of intrigue. There were parties and 



•WILD AMBITION, LIKE A RAVENOUS WOLF* 45 

cliques, each covertly working against the other, and he saw 
that if he would climb up to the heights he longed for, he 
must ally himself to one of those parties, taking care to select 
the most powerful one. Keeping these things steadily in view, 
he was careful to do everything he possibly could to cultivate 
and secure the friendship of Adrienne de Bois. The lady 
possessed great influence with the Dauphiness, and some such 
influence was indispensable to Renaud. Therefore, he cast his 
eyes upon Adrienne, and thought to himself : ' I must acquire 
power over this woman, in order that she may give me power. 
And in no way can a man obtain such a hold upon a woman 
as by teaching her to love him.' 

Renaud was perfectly well aware, however, how dangerous 
it was for a man situated as he was then to give practical 
effect to this doctrine. Marie Jael threw her shadow across his 
path and warned him of the risk he ran. Gentle as a fawn 
under ordinary circumstances, she nevertheless possessed an 
extremely jealous disposition, and under the influence of her 
jealousy she was capable of developing a passion and fierceness 
that were little short of madness. She had forcibly expressed 
this when on the occasion of his last interview with her she 
had said, referring to the possibility of any other |>erson sup- 
planting her in his heart : ' I would not kill myself as some 
women do, but I would slay her who had dared to rival me in 
my husband's love.' 

it was this spirit of fierce determination, which Renaud 
knew perfectly well his wife possessed, which troubled him, 
inasmuch as he could not shut his eyes to the fact that if Marie 
Jael obtained but the slightest inkling that he was deceiving 
her it would be farewell to all his ambitious schemes. Per- 
sonally he had no fault to And with Marie. On the contrary, 
he loved her in a certain sense, and he knew that her rare 
beauty made her a treasure that many men would have perilled 
their lives for. But she was without influence, and the small 
fortune she was entitled to would never do more than allow 
him to live in a very humdrum sort of way. It is true that, 
had he been a plodding, persevering man, he might in time 
by his own exertions have largely supplemented her income, 
and so have enjoyed a fairly comfortable (position ; and he might 
have been satisfied to have striven for this, had it not been for 
the strange chance which placed him in possession of a secret 
that was a golden key to power and wealth. That secret had 



». 
-^ 



46 BASILE THE JESTER 

created in him a burning thirst for power, and as it was im- 
possible to raise his wife with him, he must let her drift away 
while he went forward on his perilous course. 

But how was he to separate himself from her ? That was 
not by any means an easy problem to solve. He was a 
physician, and acquainted with the subtle mysteries and 
life-destroying properties of certain drugs, but to have practi- 
cally tested these on his unfortunate wife would have exposed 
him to the danger of detection. For she enjoyed excellent 
health, and her death, whether brought about suddenly or by 
lingering malady, would have been certain to have aroused 
suspicion on the part of her friends, to whom she was very 
dear. But quite apart from the risks to which it would have 
exposed him, Renaud was not yet so hardened that he could 
coolly and deliberately plan the destruction of her who had 
given him a woman's true love. Nay, the very thought of 
such a thing made him shudder, for, although he was willing 
to intrigue, and to stoop to any deceit in onler to gain his 
ends, he drew the line at murder, and especially the murder 
of his beautiful girlish wife, for whom he still felt a yearning. 
Still, it was imperatively necessary that some steps should be 
taken, in order that he might be freed from anxiety, and his 
position be rendered secure. To gain this very desirable end 
only one way presented itself ; that was the intervention of a 
third person. 

Renaud was too clear-sighted not to see that even in this 
course considerable risk must be faced, because he was placing 
a weapon in the hands of another person who might at any 
moment turn it against him. Still, he was hopeful that he 
could guard against this, and devise some scheme whereby he 
could secure the fidelity of his factotum. Money, he knew, 
was a powerful agent in this respect, though at present he was 
not blessed with much of it ; but he had discovered that his 
position as an officer in the household of the Dauphin was 
looked upon by certain Hebrew gentlemen as good security 
for loans advanced at usurer s interest. For then, as now, the 
typical Hebrew money-lender flourished and waxed fat on the 
covetousness and greed of his fellow-men. Renaud had 
already availed himself to a limited extent of this means of 
raising funds, and he was resolved now to resort to it in order 
that he might purchase the assistance of someone to do his 
bidding. In casting his eyes about for this * someone,' they 



•WILD AMBITION, LIKE A RAVENOUS WOLF' 47 

■lighted on Iiis friend and whilom companion, Paul Reibell. 
Nothing could have been more natural than that he sliould, in 
his (lilenuna, turn his eyes to this man. 

Paul Reibell was an adventurer pure and simple. His origin 
few besides himself knew. He hail been everything in turn 
and nothing for long, and seemed to totally depend u|H)n liis 
wits for his means of living. He loved ease and hatetl work. 
Gifted with ■ handsome face, a splendid figure, an irrtsistilili- 
plausibility, a naturally polished manner, a fluency of spct-di. 
and a happy-go-lucky, devil-may-care disposition, he wils at 
4mce seductive and dangerous. He lived in the ' to^ay,' and 
■nappe<l bis fingere at the ' to-morrow.' To women he wjin 
ever gracious, but his power over them was as fatal as the 
power of the fabled basilisk. To men he was a jovial cum- 
panion, courageous and reckless, but utterly unstable mid 
incapable of devotion. 

When the acquaintance between him and Renaud first 
began it is difficult to say, but they had known each other f»r 
years. Reibell was Renaud's senior by nearly ten yvnrs, and 
friendship existed between them so far as it could exist between 
two such men. It is probable, however, that the link that 
bound them was the knowledge possessed by Renauil of a 
certain incident in Reibell's life. 

Some ten years previous, they, in company with other young 
sparks, had gone to a masked ball held at a tavern on the 
occasion of a fete. Full of wine and passion, Reibell had 
suddenly got into a dispute with another mask about af^lrleneh 
in turn had danced with. From dispute they bad got (o hifcb 
words, from high wonls to blows, and his antagonist eiilled 
Reibell 'a gutter-dog.' Iteibell instantly resented this by 
dnwing his dagger and plunging it fiercely into his opiHinent's 
breast. The tragedy was enacted in the tavern garden, wliieli 
waa only faintly illuminated by small tul-lamp^. Ri-iintid wh<i 
the sole eye-witness of the deed, and in the (-(infu>iinn niid ex- 
citement that followed the finding of the ItcMly he and his 
companion fled without its Ix-ing known who they were. 

Subsequently it turned out that the hlain youth wah the (miy 
•OD of a wealthy bourgeois, who, I )rok en-hearted at the death 
of his heir, oSered a large reward for the discover}- of the 
iiiiiiiiiiiii Renaud remained staunrh, however, and as he wm 
the only one who actually knew who luul committi^I the deed, 
Beibell cacaped detection, and since then had dixplaycd ■ 



48 BASILE THE JESTER 

certain dog-like fidelity to the man who if he had liked could 
have delivered him up to the vengeance of the law^ although 
the law was lax in those days^ and human life was held cheap, 
especially when it was sacrificed in a tavern brawl. But if the 
law had failed to avenge the deed, it is certain that Reibell 
would have fallen beneath the vengeance of the dead youth's 
friends. For in such cases 'the wild justice of revenge' was 
invariably resorted to, thus Reibell really owed his life to his 
friend Renaud. 

From this it will be understood that Renaud had good reason 
for thinking that he might safely make Reibell his emissary. 
Since he became attached to the Court he had not seen him, for 
Renaud had considered it wise and politic to drop all his old 
companions ; but having determined to use Reibell, he took 
an early opportunity of hunting him up, with what result will 
be seen. 

CHAPTER VIII. 

*rr n k wicked world, and few of us are saints ; but 
there's pleasure to be had for the buying.' 

In a frouzy street in the Latin Quarter of Paris, Paul Reibell 
had his lodgings. It was a narrow, dismal-looking street, 
with great, tall wooden houses on either side, and at the top 
of one of these houses, and right under the tiles, Reibell 
occupied a room. He was in the habit of jocosely remarking 
that the reason he lived so high was to be above his creditors, 
for few or none of them would venture to climb up the many 
flights of greasy wooden stairs, where, owing to the darkness 
and the grease of ages, a stranger was veiy apt to break his 
shins or his neck, even if he escaped assassination. 

Renaud knew his way well, and so one morning soon after 
the clocks had announced the hour of eleven he rapped on 
Reibell's ramshackle door. He had chosen this particular 
time, because he was aware that it was the best for seeing his 
friend. Reibell was essentially a night-owl, and if he was 
acquainted with the proverb about the early bird and the 
worms, he had no faith in it At any rate, he preferred the 
things of the night to the worms of the morning, and, like the 
owls, he generally went to roost when the dawn proclaimed 
itself in the east. 

Getting no response to l^s knock, Renaud pushed the door^ 



A WICKED WORLD 49 

and the rickety latch, which had been reduced to its last 
screw, was too weak to offer any resistance, and yielded easily. 
Reibell was snoring on his pallet The room was musty and 
wretchedly furnished. The small window, being partly 
obscured by the overhanging eaves, scarcely admitted light 
enough to make everything in the room visible. 

Renaud was well dressed, as he wished to make an im- 
pression on his friend. He wore lavender-coloured hose and 
puce trunks, with a doublet to match, and a broad lace collar 
relieved by a small bow of red silk ribbon. And being now 
' a gentleman of the G>urt ' he was armed with a rapier in a 
velvet scabbard. He had taken the precaution, however, to 
envelop himself in a large black cloak, in order to hide his fine 
clothes, for they were out of place in such a neighbourhood. 
But now he took his cloak off, seated himself by the bed- 
side, in such a position that the light fell full upon him, and 
with a thread of fringe which he drew from the coverlet he 
tickled^ ReibeH's nose. 

It was some moments before the effects of the tickling com- 
municated themselves to the sleeper's brain. Then he 
twitched his nose about, and made various grimaces, striking 
out at last with his hand, after the manner of a person who 
tries in a half-dreamy state to whisk a fly away. Renaud 
continued the tickling process, until, irritated into wakefulness, 
Reibell made a savage lunge at the sup)>osed fly, hitting his 
nose a smart whack as he did so. Uttering an oath, and half 
starting up, he beheld Renaud sitting by the bedside roaring 
with laughterT 

' Thunder and devils !* cried Reibell, rubbing his eyes in 
amazement 'What does this mean.'* Am I dreaming? This 
is surely some trick of the brain, or you are the devil himself in 
the guise of Renaud.' 

' No devil, good Reibell,' said Renaud, ' but truly thy old 
friend, and destined to prove a good angel to thee.' 

'Then hast thou surely sold thyself to Helial and become 
one of his angels, for how else couldst thou be so richly 
dressed ?' cried Reibell in surprise, as he sat bolt upright, and 
stared as if he believed himself the victim of some illusion. 

'Thou art wrong, dear Reibell,' said the other merrily; 
'but come, attire thyself. I have business with thee.* 

' I^'t me look at thy feet !' exclaimed Reibell, as he sprang 
from the bed, 'for I verily believe thou art cloven-hoofed. 

4 



so BASILE THE JESTER 

Whence comest thou ; where hast thou been this many a day ; 
and what wouldst thou with me ? Nay, now that I look at 
thee, thou art truly Renaud. Come, thy hand, old friend. By 
the rood ! but this is passing strange. An I am in my senses, 
thou smellest of perfume, and thy beard hath the fashionable 
trimming. And, gods and fishes ! thou hast even a rapier.' 

' Cease thy silly chatter, man,' cried Renaud, as he slapped 
his friend on the back. ' Put on thy garments, and let's to 
business.' 

' Nay, but tell me truly, Renaud, hast thou really made a 
compact with the Evil One ?' asked Reibell, as he drew on his 
hose. 

* Tut, man ! talk not so lightly of so terrible a subject,' said 
Renaud, as he made the sign of the cross. 

'But where hast thou been this many a week^* asked 
Reibell, proceeding to dress himself. 

'That shalt thou know anon. Fortune has smOed upon 
me at last ; but I want thy help in order that she may not 
desert me just as I am tasting of her sweets. Thou knowest 
well she is a fickle jade.' 

' Saints and sinners ! but this is passing strange/ exclaimed 
Reibell, with mock solemnity, as he arranged his curly hair 
with a broken wooden comb. He was a well-built, handsome 
man, inclining to stoutness. He had twinkling, merry eyes, 
and a general expression of geniaHty ; and yet withal there 
was an indescribable something about his face which un- 
mistakably indicated that the man might be dangerous. 

Having finished his toilet, and notwithstanding that his 
clothes were very much the worse for wear, he looked 
singularly attractive. 

' Come,' he said ; ' I have a hollowness within me that 
requires filling. We will adjourn to Mother Gineste's tavern, 
and thou shalt have the honour of paying for the best meal 
the good dame can provide ; for, an I am a judge, thy fine 
clothes indicate a well-lined purse; and, by the Virgin! I cannot 
rattle two sous together. Over the feast thou shalt recount 
thy marvellous adventures, and tell me what devil or angel 
has sho¥m thee the way to wealth.' 

' lliy hollo¥me8S shall not continue long/ Renaud answered ; 
' but I prefer that we go not to Madame Gineste's tavern.' 

Reibell gave vent to a whistle, and exclaimed ironically : 

' Ob| oh ! 80| so ! thy fine dothes and tavern benches would 



A WICKED WORLD SI 

not aigree, eh? By St. Christopher! but it has not taken 
thee long to change thy tastes. Naj, and it may be that evei 
1, thy former bosom friend, am too humble for your Grnce.' 

' Cease thy badinage, I pray thee, good Reibell,' said 
Kenaud with ill-concealed irritability. ' A strange chance 
brought me under the notice of the Dauphiness, and 1 have 
received an appointment to the Court.' 

Reibell, at this revelation, opened his eyes in blank amaze- 
ment. Then he whistled again ; then he backed towards the 
bare wall, made a most profound bow, and remarked : 

' I knew thou hadst been in treaty with Beelsebub ; and 
may I never more sup at Mother Gineste's tavern if there isn't 
a reek of sulphur about thee. Get thee gone, I pray thee, fur 
I like not thy appearance.' 

' An thou lovest me, make not an ass of thyself,' exclaimed 
Renaud sharply. ' My good fortune shall be thine also. 1 
want thy services, and shall pay thee well. Come, sit down, 
and for once be serious, for in faith it is a serious business this 
of mine.' 

' 1 like thee better now,' said Reibell with irony, ' and thy 
purse will like me, I'll warrant. Let us to this serious business, 
then. What woutdst thou Y 

He drew up a stoot and seated himself, and Renaud followed 
his example. 

' Fortune lies in my way,' began Renaud ; ' but between me 
and it is a barrier. That barrier is my wife.' 

Reibell evinced new interest, and, fixing his eyes on his 
companion's face, said artfully : 

' Ay, wives are inconvenient things at times, and thine will 
be specially inconvenient now that thou art a courtier' 

' 'Thou speakest truly,' answered Renaud boldly, for he knew 
that it was better to be very frank with his friend. ' My wife 
if inconvenient' 

' Welt, seeing that thou hast knowledge of the mystery of 
drugs, why dost thou not ' 

' Hush !' exclaimed Ronaud with some show of alarm. 
'Thou mistakest my purpose. I would not injureahairof her 
head, as I ho]>e for mercy.' 

'Truly thou art a great man,' said Reibell with cutlhig 
sarcasm. 

'No, but I do not wish to place my neck in peril just as 
fortune's sun is beginning to dawn upon me.' 



52 BASILE THE JESTER 

* Thou art a diplomatist also/ remarked ReibelL 

' I am cautious, whatever else I may be/ Renaud said with 
some warmth. ' But now to the point My wife knows not 
of my change, and I have informed her that I go to England. 
Thou shalt help me to keep up the deception. Thou shalt 
take letters to her as coming from me, and later on thou shalt 
inform her that I have died of a grievous malady caught in 
the gruesome swamps of foggy England. Dost thou under- 
stand my drift }' 

'The devil bite me if I don't/ answered Reibell, with a 
knowing wink. Then he added with a provoking drawl : 
' There is another woman at the bottom of this^ or I am a 
fooL* 

' There is— a woman that will probably bring me fame and 
fortune.' 

'I smell the sulphur again/ said Reibell with a mocking 
laugh. 

* Thy levity is ill-timed/ Renaud answered, displaying some 
anxiety lest he had made a mistake in his man, and had pre- 
maturely revealed his plan. ' I pray thee try for once in thy 
life to be serious.' 

'Nay, good friend, chide me not,' exclaimed Reibell, 
attempting to look very earnest ; and then as he laid his hand 
upon his heart, he said : ' Thou knowest I am thine to com- 
mand ; my heart is true as steel, and thou wilt find me faithful 
as the pole star.' 

' I like thee better for saying that,' Renaud remarked; ' and 
thou wilt become my heutenant ?' 

' Ay, or may Satan fly off with me.' 

' Good. I will furnish thee with all informations from time 
to time, and shouldst thou manage this business cleverly, thou 
mayst count on being richly rewarded. Thou wilt see what 
it is I aim at. Marie Jael, my wife, is young and handsome. 
She has few friends. Her father is old and tottering into 
his grave. At his death she will inherit a small fortune. 
Believing me dead, and finding herself lonely in the world, 
she might not be reluctant to take unto herself another 
partner, lliat act would set me free. Thou hast followed 
me?' 

' Ay, clearly,' Reibell answered thoughtfully. Then, break- 
ing into his habitual laugh, he said : ' By the Mass, thou art a 
wily diplomatist, and a great future lies before thee. I may 



A WICKED WORLD 5S 

live to hear some day that thou hast become a great power at 
Court* 

'Someday it may be so,' Renaud replied significantly. 'But 
come, that hollowness of which you spoke anon is not yet 
filled. Get thee to the tavern, and tell Mather Gineste to 
give thee a flaf^n of her primest vintage. Here is the where- 
vithal to My.for it' 

He drM^but a long sjlkeo purse, and counted therefrom 
five gold coins, which he placed on the table. Reibell took 
them up, jingled them together in his hand, and, trolling a 
snatch of a bacchanalian ditty, said cheerily : 

' Fortune, thou fickle goddess, 1 kiss thy feet 1 will dine 
and sup to-day as I have not dined and supped for many a 
day, and Adeline, the prettyserving wench at Mother Gineste 's 
tavern, shall have a ribbon for a love-knot Thy hand, old 
friend,' he exclaimed, springing up. ' Come often, bring gold, 
and I will love thee.' 

Renaud drew hb clo&k about bJm and pressed bis hat down 
over his forehead. He took his friend's hand, and turned to 
go, but on reaching the door paused and looked back : and 
said, speaking with emphasis and great point : 

' Reibell, thou hast a shapely neck. An thou hast respect 
for it, be Jailhful to me ; for thou mayst remember that I 
can put a rope round it Adieu.' 

He shut the door and commenced to descend the stain, 
and so he saw not the sinister expression his unfortunate 
remark brought into the face of his friend. 

'Oh, oh. Master Renaud!' muttered Reibell; 'I like not 
thy threats. Thou wouldst make me thy bond-slave ; and 
while thou wouldat cheat the world into a belief in thine own 
immacu lateness, thou wouldst brand me as a hangman's dog. 
Eh? Well, well, thy purse will have to be long to supply my 
wants, and tliy heart will have to be fashioned of steel to escape 
my dagger, an thou shouldst ]>rove f'ahe to me. Tral lal la la 
la-la. Heigho! It's a wicked world, and few of us are saints; 
but there's pleasure to be got for the buying.' 

With this philosophical reflection he clinked his gold 
[ueces together, and then, having finished bis toilet, he 
went forth to breakfast at Mother Gineste'a tavern. 



54 BASILE THE JESTER 



CHAPTER IX. 

' MY OLD UFE GOES AWAY WITH THIS NIOHT^ AND I WILL BEGIN 

NOW TO UVE anew/ 

In accordance with the promise he had made, Renaud once more 
visited his wife at her aunt's house. He found her depressed 
in spirits and very sorrowful ; for she stated that her father — 
the Chevalier — was in such a feeble state that it was manifest 
he was breaking up. This prospect, in addition to that of 
a long separation from her husband, caused Marie Jael to be 
very downcast. But the very melancholy which had spread 
itself over her face rather served to enhance her beauty ; and 
as Renaud gazed upon her his conscience smote him for the 
deceptive part he was playing. He was tempted, strongly 
tempted, to abandon the path on which he had entered, 
brilliant and alluring though it was, and, clinging to his 
young and beautiful wife, fight his way honestly and fairly 
into a better position. 

The struggle within himself was fierce, and Marie's soft 
hand and warm kisses almost made him vow solemnly that 
he would be true to her. But to his mental vision arose a 
picture of the Court with all its glitter, pomp, and show, and 
he saw himself a central figure in it, and homage being 
paid to him, while wealth, position, influence, power, were his. 
And in the picture Adrienne de Bois stood prominently forth, 
seeming to beckon him, and say, ' Come ; wherefore art thou 
afraid ?' 

Turning firom this picture, his eyes dazzled by the glare, 
everything else seemed gloomy by contrast If he remained 
with his wife there would be no greatness, no riches or pomp, 
no homage or power, only a humdrum, vulgar sort of existence 
that would be wearying by its very monotony. 

He forgot, however, that by far the larger part of mankind 
have to lead monotonous lives ; that one day is very much like 
another day ; that week in and week out, month after month 
until the months stretch into years, the routine is the 
same, with tittle change, little break; and so life flits 
away until swallowed up in the impenetrable shadows of the 
grave. But, then, what pleasure may he derived from this 
existence, where it is made bright and sunny by genuine 
adection, and where a stout heart full of honesty of purpose. 



• MY OLD LIFE GOES AWAY WITH THIS NIGHT" 55 

Mid pulsing with healthy instincts, recoonltes that bfe is a 
duty, and that duty should ever be faithfully and cheerfully 
perfonneil 1 Although he did not morslJKe quite like this, he 
nevertheless knew perfectly well that he had to choose between 
a right and a wrong way, and that, if he decided the latter, 
he must cast out of his nature every atom of honour, and 
steel his heart against her who loved hint passionately, and 
whose love he had at one time as passionately returned. 

With a man in whom the better instincts were yet active, 
the choice was sure to produce a conflict with himself, and to 
make decision a process of mental torture. One moment 
Renaud gazed or his young wife, and was prompted to take 
her to his breast, and, confessing all, crave her forgiveness, 
and register a solemn vow never to swerve from his fidelity to 
her again so long as he lived. Bat the next moment a siren- 
like voice seemed to whisper to him, and say, 'Adrienne de 
Bois — iame, power, wealth, greatness.' 

Severely, painfully was he tried, and he proved too weak to 
resist the voice, and so after much wavering he mentally ex- 
claimed: '1 am allowing sentiment to make a fbol of me. He 
who would climb to greatness must have no sentiment.' 

This thought seemed to quite determine him io the course 
he should pursue. The struggle had ended, and he had, to 
■peak in a somewhat paradoxical way, conquered himself. 

Marie had not failed to notice that he was troubled, and, 
attributing it to other causes than the true one, she wound 
her arms lovingly alwut his neck, and said sweetly: 

' Ah, husband, thy dear heart grows heavy at the thought of 
parting, and I sicken and am faint with nameless fears.' 

' Feats of what ?' he exclaimed quickly, and almost yielding 
to an impulse to cast her from him, lest her warm and loving 
embrace should turn him from his purpose. 

' Nav, I know not, dear,' she said sadly; 'but it seems hard 
that tnou shouldst be forced to go from me when I am so 
lonely, and when my father's death will leave me lonelier 
■tilL Are there not yet some means by which this cruel 
separation may be avoided f 

' None !" he said with irritation in his tone, though why he 
should have been irritated is difficult to determine, save it 
arose by reason of disgust for himself. 

'Thou speakest sharply,' she said, noticing his manner, and 
■lightly recoiling from b^ 



56 BASILE THE JESTER 

' I am troubled sorely,' he responded, ' and could curse the 
fate that takes me from thee.' 

* Ah, now art thou mine own true love again/ she cried 
jojfiiUy, as she once more nestled to him. ' Thou art vexed, 
and thy true spirit chafes at having to leave thy wife behind. 
Is it not so, mine own dear love ?' 

'Ay, in faith it is,' he answered, still displaying irritation, 
and wishing to himself that he could get away from her 
without further words, for he was conscious that he was still 
weak, and that her winsomeness might insidiously find its way 
to his heart, which he was trying to harden into flint. He was, 
in point of fact, afraid that if he continued longer in her 
presence he could not resist her. And well might he think 
this, for she seemed on this particular night to have become 
more beautiful than ever — for the sorrow she was feeling gave 
a pensiveness to her finely-chiselled face, which suggested 
now one of the fanciful portraits that the great painters 
loved to depict, and in which chastened beauty and divine 
patience were the chief points aimed at. 

'Noble husband!' she said proudly, 'for thy sake I feel I 
could dare everything. An thy journey cannot be postponed, 
I will, an thou shouldst so wish, set even my father, the 
Chevalier, at defiance, and go forth with thee to share thy 
fortunes, whether they be good or evil. Thy sorrows shall be 
my sorrows, thy joys my joys ; and if Heaven should so will it 
that thou shouldst die, then will I die with thee.' 

These words, by which she was proving the great strength 
of her love, only served to ruflie him still more, because the 
wishes and sentiment they expressed were not in accord witli 
his. So he made answer quickly : 

' Nay, Marie, that cannot be, for any such rashness on thy part 
would cause thy father to leave thee utterly penniless.' 

She let go her hold of him, and as her eyes filled with tears 
she said reproachfully : 

' Can this be true ? It is not on me thy thoughts dwell, but 
on my fortune.' 

He saw that he had committed an error, and hastened to 
make what reparation he could. He caught her in his arms, 
and affected great warmth of affection, and said, with apparent 
earnestness : 

' Sweet Marie, wife of my heart, wherefore dost thou chide 
me so unjustly ? What care I for thy fortune ? Thou art 



•MY OLD LIFE GOES AWAY WITH THIS NIGHT* 57 

fully aware that we have jointly looked forward to thy small 
fortune, as the means to set us on the road to something; 
better. Wherefore, then, should we sacrifice that ? We must 
endure a little pain now, in order that we may enjoy much 
pleasure hereafter ; and though my heart is torn at the 
thought of going from thee, and my feelings are rudely 
wrenched at the prospect of parting, yet am I willing to 
endure in silence and in patience, because I deem it to our 
mutual advantage.' 

She seemed much impressed by his words, and she replied 
penitently : 

' Thou art right, dear husband. Go, for thy sake and mine. 
I am a weak woman, but I will be strong in my weakness, 
and shed no tear nor utter sigh that would make thy step 
falter and cause thy purpose to waver.' 

' Now art thou my brave and loyal wife,' he cried, as he 
kissed her forehead. ' Let us wince not at the wounds that 
parting makes, but turn our eyes longingly and joyfully to that 
near future which shall once more place us in each other's 

'And when set you forth, dear husband?' she asked, suppress- 
ing a sigh and anxious to give a turn to the conversation. 
' Wi^n the.week, love-bird,' he answered. 

' Ay, so soon ; 'tis fate.' 

'And fate is very cruel,' she murmured. 

' Even so. But now let us discuss our plans. In onler that 
thou mayst lack no news of me, I have made arrangements 
with my dear friend, Paul Iteibell, to bring thee letters when- 
ever I can send them to him. Thou must arrange for regular 
meetings with him, so that thy father's suspicions may not be 
aroused.' 

' And who is Paul Reibell ?' she asked in some surprise. 

' By my faith, I had forgotten that as yet thou dost not 
know him. He is a very honest gentleman, of noble and 
honourable family. I have known him this many a year. 
Nay, he is even as a brother to me, and I hold no secrets 
from hira. Therefore thou mayst trust him fully.' He 
paused for a moment, then added in a jocular tone : ' He is 
handsome withal, and full of attraction ; therefore see to it, 
good wife, that thou keepcst thy atleglaDce to me.' 

' Thy friend will be welcome for thy sake, husband,* she said 



58 BASILS THE JESTER 

with dignity ; ' but an he were to utter one word that an honest 
wife might not listen to, then would he become thy deadly 
enemy and mine, and thou wouldst be justified of God and 
man in killing him for a traitor.' 

' Bravely spoken, little woman !' Renaud exclaimed, as a pang 
of remorse- shot through him; 'but thy fear is needless. 
My friend is staunch and true as steel, and would lay down 
his life to serve thee and me. Nay, an it should be Heaven's 
good will that my life should end ere I return to thee, my 
dpng hours would be cheered by the knowledge that Paul 
Reibell would take my place in thy heart, and shield thee 
with a husband's strength and love.' 

Marie shuddered a little, as though the very idea of Renaud 
dying horrified her ; but she merely remarked : 

'Thy end is far off yet — at least, we'll hope so. But even an 
it should be near, thy successor to my affections is not bom.* 

This answer did not quite please Renaud, but he took good 
care to conceal the true state of his feelings, and smilingly he 
said : 

' Truly Heaven gave me a treasure when it gave me thee. 
Loyal, brave, and noble thou art — an honour to thy sex, a 
prize to me. We must live for each other, and all will be well.* 

In speaking thus he really felt some of the sentiment he 
was expressing, and he was exhibiting evidence to himself 
that he was yet infirm of purpose. Had he not been so far 
committed to the course on which he had entered, he might 
have found it difficult indeed to tear himself away from this 
woman, whom he described truly when he said, ' Thou art an 
honour to thy sex, a prize to me.' 

She was in very deed a prize, and he knew it. But he 
was willing to abandon her for what he believed to be a 
greater prize, though he did not pause to think that he 
might be giving up the substance for the shadow — parting 
with the fair fruit in order to partake of ashes. 

The interview was becoming embarrassing to him, and he 
was anxious to end it. While in Marie's company he felt that 
her influence was liable to upset him, and he could not trust 
himself, since he was afraid that some sudden impulse of virtue 
might prompt him to fall at her feet and confess all. He was 
glad, therefore, to note that the time usually devoted to these 
meetings had just expired, and so, folding his arms about her, 
he said: 



'MY OLD LIFE GOES AWAY WITH THIS NIGHT' 59 

' Beloved, I must leave thee now. For a time, at least, we 
must say farewell.' 

She clung to him with some instinct of fear, and though 
she wished to be self-possessed and strong, tears welled to 
her eyes, and her voice was unsteady as she made response : 

' Is it really so ? Has the moment really come for us to 
utter that heavy and heartrending word — Farewell ? The air 
grows thick, and I am faint. But, there, dear one, go. It is 
my duty to place no impediment in thy way. Not even a 
loving woman's tears must be allowed to have any effect upon 
thee. Farewell, my husband. Long indeed and weary will 
be the days until news comes from thee, to assure me that 
thou art well and happy.' She paused, and then added, with 
pathetic tenderness : ' An thou canst be happy away from her 
who has made thee her idol.' 

To this womanly expression of sincerity and love he could 
only falter something that was meaningless. He was confused 
and bewildered. But she, attributing this to distress at leav- 
ing her, poured a wealth of loving words into his ear, and 
pressed sweet kisses on his lips. But the final moment 
came at last, and, tearing himself from her, he rushed out 
into the darkness of the night, and down the long garden 
that environed the house. Then, panting and distressed, he 
threw himself on the grass and gazed up to the silent white 
stars, until to his fevered fancy they seemed, in their very 
silence and their splendour, to reproach him, so that he turned 
from them and hid his face in the grass. 

Once more he struggled with himself. It was a bitter 
struggle ; but presently he sprang up savagely. He seeme<l 
to shake himself like an &ngry dog. His face was pale, his 
lips were compressed, his eyes were flashing. 

' I am an idiot !' he muttered between clenched teeth. ' A 
golden price is actually within my grasp, and yet I hesitate to 
close my hands upon it Tut! my weakness has passed. My old 
life goes away with this night, and I will begin now to hve.' 

He turned towards the house he had just led. Not a light 
was to be seen in it It was a black mass, with its outlines 
only &intly defined by the stars. Over all reigned a silence 
that was like the silence of death. Renaud st<MKl for a few 
moments. Tlien he uttered the word * Farewell,' and, turning 
hastily, strode away, believing that he had lo(»ked u|M>n his 
wife for the last tim«. 



60 BASILB THE JESTER 



CHAPTER X. 

'I GIVE TUBE BACK THY WORDS SPAWN OF A TOAD.' 

For a few days alter that parting from his wife^ Renaud could 
not shake off a feeling of uneasiness and depression. Her pre- 
sence seemed somehow to haunt him^ and he half expected 
to he informed by some of the messengers that she had 
arrived at the palace. The uneasiness, however, gradually 
wore off, and when he found himself at Fontainebleau, whither 
the Court had removed for a time, he became quite cheerful 
and elated. ' All my trouble now lies behind me,' he thought, 
'while before me is luxury and ease.' 

If Renaud could only have thoroughly dissevered the past 
from himself, his dream of luxury and ease might probably 
have been realized. But it is given to no man to do this. 
The past ever leaves its impress upon us, and nothing, save 
the effacement of memory, can obliterate that impress. 

Renaud neglected no opportunity of strengthening his posi- 
tion at the Court, and he daily gave evidence that he had all 
the natural aptitude for, and the instincts of, a courtier. And 
what was of great consequence to him was, he succeeded in 
ingratiating himself in the favour of the young Dauphiness. 
It happened one day that a beautiful spaniel on which she set 
great store and value was kicked by a horse and had its leg 
broken. Renaud met one of the royal servants canying the 
animal immediately after the accident Learning that it was 
the Queen's pet dog, he saw immediately how he might turn 
the incident to account, and he proceeded to bind up the 
broken leg, and to treat the animal generally, with the result 
that in a few weeks the dog was quite well again, much to 
the Queen's delight and to Renaud's advancement in her 
favour, for she not only commanded that a substantial mark of 
her gratitude should be given in the shape of a money pay- 
ment, but she personally thanked him. 

His position after this was materially improved, and he 
began to realize with intense gratification that he was very far 
indeed from being a nonentity at the Court But there was 
one person, however, who not only tacitly refused to recog- 
nise his position, but did not hesitate to express his contempt 
for him in every possible way. This person was no other than 



•I GIVE THEE BACK THY WORE>S' 6l 

Bastle the Jester. Renaud was inteDsely annoyed at this, but 
he had his own reasons for meekly submitting to it, though 
cme day his discretion was forgotten, and open hostility nearly 
resulted. It happened thus. Renaud was rapiilly turning an 
angle in one of the corridors as he was on his way to his room 
in the palace, when Basile was coming from the opjiosite 
direction. The consequence was that the two men came into 
forcible collision with each other. 

'Thou gutter dog, thou spawn of a toad!' Renaud cried 
passionately, as he struck the luckless Jester a blow in the 
chest which sent him reeling against the wall. In an instant 
he perceived his error, and said quickly, ' Nay, good Basile, 
pardon my hastiness ; but, by the Mass, thou hast well-nigh 
broken in my ribs. Come, thy hand. I regret me the blow 
I have given thee, and the words my idle tongue has 
uttered.' 

Basile drew himself up with a look of withering scom on 
his pale face. He was trembling with passion, and his eyes 
were flashing lire. He tossed ImcW his head indignantly, 
making his bells jingle, and as he stood erect, his clenched 
fists presseil hard down to his sides, he said ; 

' I give thee back thy words — spawn of a toad. Thy hand 
I would scorn to touch, and the blow thou hast given me shall 
come day be revenged.' 

He passed on without another word, and left his antagonist 
standing there, dumb with amazement and burning with 
anger at his own folly. 

' Fool that I am !' he muttered. ' This man will be a bad 
enemy in my path, and I must see if be cannot be rendered 
more respectful or removed.' 

Renaud tried to think lightly of Basile's threat, but his 
efforts were far from successful. The Jester was now his 
deadly enemy, he could not shut his eyes to the fact, and he 
thought to himself : 

' I must watch and waiL Perhaps my chance will come to 
render the man harmless.' 

Months passed away, and though Renaud and Basile often 
met, no word was ever exchanged ; but on the Jester's part 
were scowls and frowns, and on Rcnaud's an assumed lofty 
indifference. 

During those months Renaud had not been idle or in- 
different to his interests, and had managed hy his skill and 



62 BASILS THE JESTER 

maimer to draw considerable attention to himsel£ Through 
the instrumentality of his friend Reibell, whom Renaud had 
found a very costly aid, he communicated with his wife occa- 
sionally, and received through the same means letters from 
her. Her letters were always full of love, and expressed 
yearning for his return. Reibell on his part found his mission 
very agreeable, and particularly to his tastes. He valued his 
services pretty highly, and took good care to exact prompt 
payment from his good friend Renaud. 

Marie, believing him to be a true friend, became much 
attached to him. He was an agreeable companion, and played 
his cards so skilfully to win her favour that she reposed per- 
fect faith in him, and never dreamed that a wolf might be 
concealed in the lamb's skin. But quite apart from the mone- 
tary considerations, Reibell very soon came to look upon Marie 
with a lover's eyes. Her beauty fired his blood, and he longed 
to possess her, though he was too crafly to do anything rashly 
or prematurely. 

At length the time came for the culmination of the plot 
between the two men, and Reibell, in accordance with the 
prcarrangement, sought an interview with Marie Jael. Then 
with great tact, and discretion worthy of a better cause, he con- 
veyed to the poor girl the information that her husband had 
died in England, after a brief and painful illness. 

Never dreaming for a moment that she was being cruelly 
deceived, Marie was terribly shocked at the news, and gave 
way to hysterical weeping. But with wiles and arts, in which 
he was a past master, Reibell gradually reduced her to a 
serener frame of mind, and by insidious artfulness so traded 
upon her feelings that, under cover of profound friendship, 
he attempted to console her with caresses. And later on 
when he parted from her he was so exceedingly pleased with 
himself, that, reflecting on his position, he thought : ' Marie is 
mine ' ; and patting his own breast with admiration, he ex- 
claimed : ' Good Reibell, thou hast done well, and there are fat 
times in store for thee.' 

He evidently believed and felt that he was in luck's way, 
as the saying is, and that henceforth he had nothing to do but 
enjoy himself His was certainly a happy disposition, what^ 
ever else might be said of it. Whether he had his pocket 
full of gold or was compelled to sup on a dry crust, he was 
equally light-hearted. Of course he preferred the gold, but 



■xL^Xi 



'I GIVE THEE BACK THY WORDS' 63 

he liked to get it easily, for he loved ease, and ease to him 
meant laziness. He had a habit of saying that he and hard 
work could never agree, and so he took good care to have 
nothing whatever to do with it, as being the best means of 
avoiding a quarreL 

When Renaud heard the progress that had been made, and 
that his wife was now under the impression that she was a 
widow, he rejoiced exceedingly ; and said to himself : ' The 
main obstacle to my advancement is rendered harmless. 
Marie, believing herself a widow, will not trouble herself any 
further about me. Her beauty will soon attract admirers, and 
she will marry again. Then all will be welL' 

This reflection having made him bolder, and even more 
ambitious, he very soon began to pay more decided attention to 
Adrienne de Bois. She had been charged by the Dauphiness 
to show every care and attention to the little Francois, the 
supposed son of Renaud, and as a natural consequence she 
spent much time with the child, and became greatly attached 
to him. 

Renaud had thus an opportunity of seeing Adrienne daily, 
and of frequently being alone with her, for on the plea of 
visiting his son he was often in her apartments. On three or 
four occasions, when leaving Adrienne's room, he was sur- 
prised to meet Basile the Jester. At first he attached no im- 
portance to it. Then it struck him that the Jester was playing 
the part of a spy on his movements, and this caused him to lose 
his temper again, so that one day he very foolishly accused 
Basile of spying, and said : 

' Have a care, fool, lest, believing thee to be a menace to my 
safety as a viper would be in my path, I crush thee even as I 
would crush the viper.* 

Basile laughed scornfully at this threat, and retorted : 

' False knave, I fear thee not, and thy threats I despise.' 
So saying, he turned on his heel and walked away, leaving 
Renaud quivering with rage, but, as he himself knew, he was 
impotent to do anythuig. 

This little incident disturbed Renaud for some days, but 
very soon his habitual confidence returned, and he began to 
make love to Adrienne with increased ardour. About three 
months later he openly declared his passion, and asked her 
to be his wife. 

She acknowledged that he had entirely won her heart, and 



64 BASILE THE JESTER 

that she loved him deeply, but she said that his request took 
her by surprise, and that, while not disinclined to accede to it, 
she would first of all have to ask the permission of the 
Dauphiness : that was a matter that required consideration ; 
moreover, she must wait for a fitting occasion. 

Renaud knew it was policy not to oppose this. In fact, he 
had no desire whatever to do so. He was satisfied with the 
progress he had made, and was content to wait. The ' fitting 
occasion,' however, seemed in danger of being put off indefi- 
nitely, for the Court was suddenly plunged into grief and 
mourning by the sudden and unexpected death of the husband 
of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary thus found herself a widow 
before she was nineteen, and for a time was inconsolable, 
shutting herself up in her room and refusing to see anyone, 
excepting a few of her maids, amongst whom was Adrienne 
de Bois. 

Some months later Mary prepared to leave the country oi 
her adoption, in order to assume her position as Queen ol 
Scotland. Amongst those who were to form her retinue 
were Adrienne and Renaud. He heard the order with un- 
bounded delight, for in a foreign country what might he not 
accomplish ? All things seemed possible now. 

A week or two before the time fixed for depature, he met 
Adrienne de Bois on a terrace that overlooked the magnificent 
gardens of the palace. It was a July night, sultry and dreamy. 
The air was rich with the perfume of many flowers, and the 
stars were dream-like with hazy splendour. She, vnrapped 
in a reverie, leaned against the railings, listening to the soft 
notes of a nightingale that piped in a neighbouring bower. 
Renaud knew that she often went there, and he followed her 
on this particular night. As he passed through the richly 
furnished chamber that led to the terrace, he was startled by 
what in the dim light he believed to be the figure of a man, 
who was apparently watching Adrienne. As Renaud ap- 
proached, the figure turned and seemed to glare at him, 
then, silently and suddenly, as if it had been a spectre, dis- 
appeared behind a massive velvet curtain. For two or three 
minutes Renaud stood in alarm and doubt, until, with a sense of 
desperation, he approached the curtain and examined it, but 
there was no trace of human being. 

He was a superstitious man, and a deadly fear seized him, 
for he thought he had seen a spirit. But shaking off his fear. 



'I GIVE THEE BACK THY WORDS' 65 

he suddenly hurried forward, caught the surprised Adrienne in 
his arms, and veiy soon was pouring a flood of passionate love 
words into her not unwilling ears. 

'Adrienne, my beloved, thou wilt he my wife,' he cried, as he 
held her and kissed her again and again. ' Before we leave our 
native France let us be secretly united, and when our gracious 
Queen is less distracted by the cares of State, we will appeal 
to her to ratify our union. Say that it shall be so. Leave me 
no longer in suspense, for I feel that I do not Uve while thou 
art not mine. Make mc the happiest man in Christendom 
to-night, by saying that it shall be as I desire.' 

She was moved by the passion of his appeal, the fervour of 
his embrace, and her heart beat wildly with the ecstasy of 
love. 

' I will give thee my answer to-morrow,' she murmured. 
' And now go ; leave me, for thou wouldst compromise my 
honour if we were discovered here.' 

He pressed burning kisses on her upturned face, and then, 
in obedience to her command, hurried away, and as he entered 
the room he could have sworn that the Gsure of a man once 
more was there, and suddenly disappeared again behind the 
curtain. Renaud, however, began to think now that this was 
only some trick of fancy ; at any rate, being elated and lighU 
he^-ted, he was inclined to pooh-pooh his fears, and not for a 
■ingle instant did he doubt that on the morrow Adrienne 's 
answer would be favourable. On the following day he did 
not see her until late. When they met she was pale, agitated, 
and apparently ilL 

'Thy answer,' he cried excitedly — 'it is that for which my 
heart yearns, b it not ?' 

' No,' she answered in evident distress. 

' No,' he echoed. ' Wherefore no ?' 

' I will give thee no reason, but I cannot be thy wife.' 

He reeled a little. It was a shattering of his hopes, and 
seemed to knell his downfall. She noticed his distress, and, 
laying her hand on bis, said kindly : 

' It breaks my heart to (ay no, but, an thou lovest me, thon 
must rcbpect my wishes. I will be thy true friend and sup- 
porter, but thy wife 1 can never be. Go, I beseech thee; 
nay, command thee.' 

He would have prolonged the Interview, but there was 
■omething in her tone ami manner which caused him to think 



66 BASILE THE JESTER 

that he would only damage his cause by remaining ; and so he 
kissed her hand and withdrew, and when he had gone 
Adrienne burst into tears. 

The reason that her answer had been contrary to his wishes 
was thisr On the preceding night, when she went to her 
sleeping chamber, she was startled to find a small ivory- 
handled dagger sticking in her dressing-table where she could 
not fail to see it, and attached to the handle of the dagger by 
a piece of ribbon was a slip of parchment, on which was 
written : ' Adrienne de Bois, beware of Renaud. Become not 
his wife, or an you do, that day you shall die as surely as you 
are a woipan.' 

CHAPTER XI. 

'I HAVE PURSUED A SHADOW.* 

The scene shifts, and we are in Edinburgh. The time is about 
the end of 1565. 

Mary, Queen of Scots, at the head of a feudal army of ten 
thousand men, is sweeping through Fife to chastise her 
brother, the Earl of Murray, who, secretly supported by Eliza- 
beth of England, has defied the power of his sister and lawful 
sovereign. Mary literally leads her army. She rides a 
powerful horse, and carries pistols, and by her courage and 
determination inspires her followers to daring deeds. She 
fined St Andrews and Dundee large sums for having given 
aid to the insurgents ; and then she hurried Mrith her victorious 
troops to the Ochil Mountains, where she stormed the 
powerful and romantically situated Castle Campbell, which fell 
into her possession after a feeble resistance. 

This vigorous policy and personal daring rallied a large 
number of waverers to her standard, and had she continued 
to rule with the same firm hand, how different might her 
career have been ! 

Since her return to her native land her life had been full of 
excitement and incident, and she had been made the victim 
of the shameful intrigues of Queen Elizabeth and her Court 
But the Scottish Queen was young and full of spirit, and after 
refusing various suitors for her hand she had become the wife 
of Lord Damley, son of the Earl of Lennox, himself a member 
of the House of Stuart, though he had been banished from 



•I HAVE PURSUED A SHADOW 67 

Scotland for having espoused the cause of Henry VIII. He 
had, however, been recalled b}r Marjr and restored to honour 
and position. 

The Ear) of Murray had l>een opposed to this marriflge, and 
when he found that he could not prevent it, he broke into open 
hostility against his sovereign. One of the chief, if not the 
only cause of Maty's troubles, was the religious dissensions 
which had split up her followers into two parties. The 
intolerant John Knox was hurling his thunderbolts agninst 
the Romish Church ; while the CathoUcs had leagued them- 
lelves together to resist persecution and to uphold their creed. 

In the Palace of Holyrood Renaud was now a person of 
importance and influence. By intrigue, if not by crime, he 
had raised himself to a high position, and he made his power 
felt in a way that was little short of tyrannical. It will readily 
be understood, therefore, that he was hate<l and feared. 
Between him and his supposed son, Francis, there was no 
love. Francois had grown into a handsome, stalwart youth. He 
was a stanch Catholic, and a great favourite with the Queen, who 
had displayed much personal interest in his welfare, and had 
made him one of her pages.* To Adrienne de Bois, who had 
been a mother to him, he was devotedly attached, and the 
cause of his dislike for his supposed father was probably to be 
found in the fact that he was aware that Renaud subjected 
Adrienne to a species of annoyance that was little short of 
persecution. Renaud, in short, had never ceased to urge 
Adrienne to become his wife, and the more power he gained 
the more he endeavoured to coerce her into compRancc with 
his wishes. 

It might have been thought that, seeing he was able 
to rise without her aid, he would have ceased to desire 
her as his wife. For though she was distinguished for a 
charming amiability of disjM>sition, she had no l>eauty to re- 
commend her. But, with the persistency and deternii nation 
which were characteristic of him, he bad never allowed the 
matter to rest His vanity had, no doubt, been wounded by 
her equally persistent refusals, and to he had resolved not to 

t at the period with which wa an daa 
, • meoisl pnaltion. On the eanintj, l 
lag with It eotuidentilii mponiibilitj •nd h'luiHir. It wu ooitnmsrj 
■DO! of nobleni«n to be msde rojtl pegee, and Uikj wera •nbeeqiMnllj gi 
u in tbt amj.— TBI AuTHOa. 



68 BASILE THE JESTER 

let her rest. But his strongest reasoil of all was the consider- 
able fortune she possessed. On her part^ she had come to 
look upon him with aversion, and she had on divers occasions 
lodged a complaint Mrith her Majesty against him. But these 
complaints were always fruitless^ for Renaud professed to be 
an earnest Catholic, and ready at any moment to sacrifice his 
life in defence of his Queen. With such a partisan, there- 
fore, Mary was not likely to quarrel ; and, as a matter of 
fact, she would rather have parted with Adrienne than with 
Renaud. Adrienne had come to recognise this, and latterly 
had refrained from mentioning the subject to the Queen, while 
studiously avoiding Renaud. This had annoyed him very 
much, for it still further wounded his vanity, and he resolved 
to humble her in some way. 

He knew that it was difficult to get a private interview with 
her, and so one day sent a servant, who was in his pay, to 
inform her that Fran9ois, then absent with the Queen, had 
forwarded her a message, and the messenger awaited her 
pleasure in the picture-gallery. 

Adrienne was delighted when she heard this, for she had 
pined much for Francois, and she said she would repair at 
once to the picture-gallery. She was the first there, but had 
not many minutes to wait before a door opened and Renaud 
presented himself. 

He was hardly the same Renaud whose acquaintance we 
first made in Paris. He had since then acquired ail the habits 
and bearings of a courtier. His movements were slow and 
dignified,as befitted one of her Majesty's chief physicians. There 
was an imperiousness in his tone and bearing towards those 
whom he considered his inferiors, and, like all men who rise to 
power by such means as he had risen by, he loved to display his 
power and make his influence felt He was still a young man, 
hardly yet in the prime of life, but his face wore an anxious 
expression, and an habitual frown caused him to look older than 
he really was. He was handsomely dressed now. He wore 
shoes with high red heels and ornamented with diamond 
buckles ; black hose, purple velvet trunks, and a tunic of the 
very richest velvet, which was relieved by a very large and 
costly point-lace collar, fastened at the throat by a small 
diamond clasp. The velvet scabbard of his rapier was beauti- 
fully embroidered, and the handle of the rapier itself was set 
with jewels. 



•I HAVE PURSUED A SHADOW 69 

Adrienne sUrted as he came in, and she said with marked 
Indignation : 

' I am deceived, then, unless thou ui the bearer of a message 
from Francis?* 

Benaud smiled coldly, and bowed stiffly as he said : 

' I am not the bearer of a message from Fran9ois ; but I used 
that argument, sweet Adrienne, to make sure that thou wouldst 
come to my bidding.' 

' Then thou hast been gudty of an act of meanness,' she 
answered angrily. 

' Love justifies all things,' be responded. 

' Wherefore art tliou so persistent ?' she asked. ' For years 
thou hast pursued me, and yet thou art well aware that I can 
never wed thee.' 

' That thou hast often told me,' he said sternly ; ' and yet, 
nothing daunted, I have hoped that some day I might break 
down thy prejudice.' 

' I have no prejudice,' she returned quickly, ' but wherefore 
do you persecute me.' 

' Nay, use not such a hard term as penteute,' be answered. 
' I am persistent and determined, and having set my mind 
upon doing a thing, I am not easily turned from my purpose. 
My memory goes back to that July night bi Paris when I 
confessed that thou wert precious to me, and thou in return 
told me of thy love. Then, on the following day when my hopea 
were high, they were destroyed by thy mysterious refusal 
to be my wife. What mu the mystery ? What led thee to 
snatch the cup of happiness from my lips i Often have I asked 
thee this, and yet as often hast thou refused to tell me. Now 
I am shunned by thee. Wherefore? The more 1 dwell upon 
this, the stronger grows my feeling that I should no longer live 
under a shadow with resjKct to thee. If thou knowcst aught 
against me, speak. I have a right to demand explanation of thy 
conduct' 

' I know of nothing againat thee,' she said with some 
confuKion- 

' Why, then, have I incurred thy hatred ?* 

'Not hatred; but thuu hast annoyed me,and 1 have felt an;:^.' 

' But there was a time when thou didst love me. Was it 

' It was,' she answered, growing more confused. 
' What killed that love i^ 



70 BASILE THE JESTER 

' It was not killed then.' 

' Why^ then^ didst thou not become my wife ?' he demanded 
in a determined tone that startled her^ so that she looked up 
with alarm depicted on her face^ and she seemed to be puzzled 
what to say. But after a pause, during which she made up 
her mind, she answered : 

^I will tell thee, an thou wilt promise to henceforth let 
me go my way and seek no more to influence me to become 
thine.' 

' Why shouldst thou try to exact such a promise as that from 
me V he asked with some anger. 

She looked at him fixedly for some little time ; then, laying 
stress upon her words, she asked : 

' Art thou so dull that thou canst not read my thoughts ?' 

A cynical sneer spread itself over his face as he made 
answer : 

' I should be dull indeed an I could not. Thou wouldst, 
an thou hadst the courage, tell me that thy love is dead. Eh? 
Am I wrong .^* 

* No, thou art right,* she said firmly. 

' So, we have come to an understanding at last ?* he replied 
with great bitterness ; ' and I perceive now that during all 
these years I have pursued a shadow — a shadow that has 
lured me and mocked me. Well, so be it. The loss may be 
thine, not mine.' 

' It may,' she answered. 

'And now tell me what thou habt to tell,' he observed 
sharply. 

' Have I thy promise .^ 

' Yes,' he growled. 

' Then hear the reason. On the night that thou told thy 
love, I was warned, on pain of certain death, not to be thy 
wife.' 

Renaud, who had been staring in an absent sort of way 
through an open window, turned suddenly as if he had been 
struck ; and his flushed face and flashing eyes told how deeply 
her words had affected him. 

' Who was it who gave thee this warning ?* he demanded 
almost fiercely, clenching his fists and fixing his blazing eyes 
upon her as she stood pale, trembling, and agitated before him. 

' I know not,* she answered. 

Evidently thinking that she was purposely holding back the 



•I HAVE PURSUED A SHADOW 71 

infomiatioD he sought, he allowed his passion to get the better 
of him, and, losing his temper, he hissed : 

' Woman, thou liest, and 1 will wring the secret from 
theer 

At the same moment he seized her violently by the wrist, 
bruising and reddening her white arm. 

For a moment she was startled, and turned deathly )Mle. 
Then strong indignation at the unmerited outrage brought a 
hot flush into her face, and, wrenching herself free from his 
grasp, she cried : 

' Shame on thee for a poltroon ! Know, sir, that 1 lie not, 
and be assured that the insult thou hast put upon me shall not 
go unavenged.' 

He saw at once that he had made a grave blunder, and he 
exclaimed apologetically : 

■ Nay, dear lady, be lenient with me, for an thy love for me 
be dead, mine for thee still lives. Thy words maddened me; 
but thou art generous and wilt forgive.' 

A look of contempt and scorn came into her face as she 
said, with lofty dignity : 

' A man that loves a wonian lays not his hand upon her in 
anger. Thou hast subjected me to an indignity that an thou 
wert the King I would not tolerate. And thou mayst yet 
find to thy cost that thou hast made a relentless enemy.' 

' Thou art a. woman, and should be gentle,' he said, hoarsely 
and pleadingly. 

' 1 should be less than a woman on I failed to resent thy 
gross outrage and thy charge of falsehood. But know this, 
that I speak not falsely. The warning to which 1 refer was 
conveyed to me not by won! oC mouth, but a poniard was 
stuck into the table of my sleeping-chamber, and attached to 
the handle of the weapon was a slip of parchment, on which 
the words were written. Those words affected me strongly, 
and, attaching grave importance to them, I resolved not to 
accede to thy request. But though 1 could not be thy wife I 
would have been thy friend. Now, however, thou hast made 
me thine enemy.' 

Turning from him quickly, and with an angry gesture, she 
swept out of the gallciy before he could utter a word or niake 
a movement to stop her. 

Amazed into dumlmcss by her sudden and unex|>ectit] 
display of eoergj- anil temiicr, he stood for some miimtes 



72 BASILE THE JESTER 

irresolute and awed. Gradually he returned to his normal 
condition. Then, drawing himself up, a smile of defiant 
scorn wreathed itself about his mouth, and between close-set 
teeth he muttered : 

' Thou hast threatened me, sweet lady, but thy threats shall 
recoil on thine own head. I have an eflectual weapon where- 
with to smite thee. That weapon is Fran9ois, and through 
him I will break thy heart' 



CHAPTER Xn. 

THE PHYSICIAN AND THE FOOL. 

The information Renaud had received from Adrienne de Bois 
was certainly food for reflection, and it caused him no little 
chagrin. He had been defeated in one of his projects by an 
unseen enemy, and though he had climbed far up the ladder 
without Adrienne's help, he nevertheless had lost, in losing 
her, a considerable fortune. 

The incidents of that July night in Paris, when he had asked 
Adrienne to become his wife, he vividly recalled, and he 
remembered how he had imagined that twice he saw the figure 
of a man in the ante-room through which he passed to reach 
the balcony. He had then, and for long after, attributed this 
to some delusion of the brain. But now, in associating it with 
what he had learned from Adrienne, he came to the conclusion 
that he had been watched, that his footsteps had been dogged 
and his movements noted by a spy. IVho was the spy ? To 
that question only one answ^er framed itself in his mind, and 
the answer was — Basile. 

For years he had treated Basile as he might have treated 
a mang}' dog, and patiently and uncomplainingly the Jester 
had endured it all, for he was perfectly well aware of his own 
power] essness. Both men mutually though tacitly agreed to 
hate each other, though in Basile's case the hate had to be 
silent, for it could find no means to display itself except in 
scowling looks : for how could the poor buffoon hope to make 
himself heard against the favourite Court physician, who liad 
climbed to power by unscrupulous means, it is true, but whose 
power was absolute, nevertheless.^ On the other hand, Renaud 
was enabled in a variety of ways to give practical effect to his 



THE PHYSICIAN AND THE FOOL IS 

hatred, notwithstAnding that he really had no control of any 
kind over the Jester, and yet he managed to make his life 
a burden to him. But although the Jester was silent, and 
offered no open resistance to the persecution he was subjected 
to, he was not quite the harmless worm he was thought to be, 
as will be seen later on. 

After parting from Adrienne, Renaud retireil to his chamber, 
and sat for some time pondering on what had taken place. His 
was a small but elegant room, hung with costly tapestry and 
furnished with massive and exquisitely-carved furniture. He 
>at for some time in moody silence, regretting deeply that he 
had offended Adrienne, and trying to think of some plan 
whereby he might propitiate her again. At length he sum- 
moned his page, and said : 

' Bastian, go thou and seek Basile the Jester, and bid him 
attend me here. I would have speech with him, and during 
the interview conceal thyself in the secret recess.' 

Bastian was a low-browed, cunning-looking man of about 
six-and-twenty. He was much attached to his master, and in 
him Renaud found a ready and faithful servant ; and though 
he had never tested to what extent the man's fidelity was to be 
trusted, he was disposed to think he would be able to exact 
from Bastian any service, even though it should involve crime. 

Bowing to his master, Bastian left the room to execute his 
orders. Half an hour later Basile presented himself. 

He had altered very much in appearance. His face wore 
an expression of melancholy, he looked careworn and haggard. 
He was thin, and seemed ill, and was prematurely aged. 

He made no obeisance as he entered, but, on the contrary, 
bis bearing expressed haughtiness and defiance. 

'Thou hast sent for me,' he remarked abruptly. 

Renaud did not reply for some momenta ; then with equal 
abruptness said ; 

'Thou bast a good memory, fool.' 

' Ay, better than thou wouldst wish me to have, an thou 
badst the ordering of it,' answered the Jester sneeringly. 

' Thou hast a saucy tongue,' Renaud remarked, with growing 
anger. 

' Kven as thou hast a lying one,' Basile retorted. 

Renaud started. He bit his lip with passion, and menacingly 
grasped the jewelled handle of the small dagger he invariably 
carried at his waisL 



74 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Have a care, fool — have a care/ he growled. 

With a quick, agile movement Basile plunged his hand into 
the' hreast of his doublet and drew forth a gleaming poniard. 

' Threaten me not/ he cried passionately, 'for, as thou mayest 
perceive, two can carry daggers.' 

Renaud was alarmed and surprised, for this was the first 
time his victim had ever displayed any spirit or disposition to 
resent the persecution to which he was subjected. 

' Put thy weapon up, man,' said Renaud, with a forced laugh. 
' I did but joke ; and thou knowest well it is contrary to the 
rules of the Queen's Court that fools should carry lethal 
weapons.' 

'That is true. Master Renaud/ answeied the Jester; 'but 
knowing what I know of thee, I telt that when thou desired 
to see me alone in thy chamber, I had best come prepared to 
take my 0¥m part. We are alone, and for the time being I 
am thy equal. Thou art an adventurer, and thou knowest 
well that I am aware of it. And now face to face and man to 
man, and with no eye to see us and no ear to hear us, I tell 
thee to beware, for even a fool may know how to be revenged.' 

Renaud smiled sardonically, and though he was pale to 
deathliness, he was perfectly collected and cool, and he said 
with marked emphasis, and a pause between each word : 

' Thou hast made a small mistake, good Basile. What ho, 
there, Bastian!' A velvet curtain screening a recess was 
partly lifted, and Bastian the page stepped forth, and stood 
like a statue, waiting his master's further orders. Basile fairly 
reeled, and in his amazement his dagger fell from his hand on 
to the floor. ' Thou wilt perceive that there has been a witness 
to our interview,' Renaud continued, in the same cool and 
emphatic way. 'Dost recognise now the false position in 
which thou hast placed thyself, fool ?' Basile was silent, and 
Renaud went on : ' Thou hast threatened one of her Majesty's 
officers, and drawn a weapon against him. That is petit treason, 
and in thy case the penalty is death. But I will for the time 
spare thee. Bastian, thou canst retire from the room.' The 
page bowed, and went out by the doorway. ' And now, fool, 
answer me : to what extent didst thou play the spy on my 
movements when I first came to the Court in Paris }* 

Basile had by this time recovered himself to some extent. 
He saw clearly that his enemy decidedly had the advantage 
over him so far, but knowing what he did know, he was not 



THE PHYSICIAN AND THE FOOL ?5 

disposed to e«t dirt at the bidding of a man whom he despised, 
and whom he also knew was an impostor. Before speaking, 
the Jester stooped to pick up the fallen dagger, but Renaud 
instantly covered it with his foot, and said finn^ : 

' Tbou must not touch that weapon again.' Then he picked 
It up himself and placed it in his girdle. 

In spite of this, Basile was not cowed ; his presence of mind 
had returned, and he looked de6antly as he made answer : 

'Thou mayst be an inquisitor, but, leastways, thou art not 
my confessor, and I decline to confess to thee.' 

' Have a care how thou triftest with me,' cried Renaud, with 
flashing eyes. 

' Have a care thyself,' retorted Basile, 'lest, being stung to 
desperation, 1 unmask thee.* 

'Thou duret not,' said Renaud quickly, and, though trying 
to appear unconcerned, giving evident signs in his tone and 
manner that the threat had brought a fear into bis heart 

' Durst not !' echoed the Jester. 

'Those were my words,' said Renaud. 

' And wherefore dare I not f 

' Because, firstly, thou wouldst not be believed, for I would 
swear that thou wert diseased in the brain ; and, secondly, 
because if thou shouldst utter a single word against me, no 
power on earth could save thee. "liiy life should pay the 
fbrfeiL' 

Renaud smiled cynically, and the haggard expression in 
Basile'fl face seemed to increase. Thepoor Jester was crushed. 
He knew only too well that he could not hope to make him- 
self heard against Renaud, who was as pitiless as be was un- 
scrupulous. 

'"rhe triumph is thine for the moment. Master Renaud,' he 
■aid sadly ; ' but it may not always be so.' 

'Keep thy veiled threats to thyself; it were better so,' 
Renaud answered disdainfully. ' And now to the business 
that caused me to send for thee. Thou knowest that years 
ago I sought to make Mademoiselle de Boia my wife ?' 

'Yes.' 

' Aha !' cried Renaud exultingly, ' how didrt tbou know it^ 

' I guessed it,' said the Jester, looking sternly at Henaud, 
from whose face the exultant expresuon faded again, and be 
answered ; 

' Tbou liest, knave.' 



76 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Knave to thyself^' exclaimed BasUe, with more fiercenesi 
than he had hitherto displayed. 

Renaud did not relish this quick retort The Recusation 
struck home, and he winced. He looked upon the man before 
him with scorn and revengeful feelings ; but he knew that he 
was a power that must be reckoned with ; and however much 
he might desire him out of his way, it was not an easy thing 
to remove him. He had sent for him to try and discover 
whether he had had any hand in preventing Adrienne de Bois 
from becoming his wife ; but he had quite failed to accom- 
plish his purpose, and in Basile's present frame of mind it was 
doubtful if he would succeed if he kept him there for hours 
longer. Renaud was conscious now that he had not managed 
the interview with diplomacy, and, moreover, it dawned upon 
him that, instead of making the Jester his enemy, it would be 
better to try and conciliate him. 

There was a long pause, then Basile said : 

' If thou hast finished with me I will take my leave,' and he 
turned to ga 

'Stay,' cried Renaud. 

' What is thy pleasure now ?' asked the Jester sullenly. 

'I would ask thee if it is not to our interests that there 
should be peace between me and thee Y 

' Peace !* exclaimed Basile, with a sneering laugh. ' It has 
taken thee a goodly number of years to come to that opinion. 
Peace, forsooth ! After thou hast wronged .me, and heaped 
upon me every insult, thou w^ouldst make peace. By the 
Mass, I would rather die a dog's death than accept aught from 
thy hands ! No, Master Renaud, there can be no peace while 
thou and I live under one roof.' 

Renaud was humiliated. He had not expected such a 
rebuff*. He thought that this man whom he so despised would 
have jumped at the chance of a reconciliation, instead of 
which he scornfully spumed it Renaud inwurdly chafed, 
but, preserving a calm demeanour, he said quietly : 

'Think again.' 

'I require no thinking. If I have borne thy rebuffs 
patiently, it has been with a purpose ; but some day we will 
have a reckoning.' 

' It is war between us, then,' Renaud remarked bitterly. 

' Ay, war to the death an thou wilt,' answered Basile, with 
a des|)airing sigh. 



THE PHYSICIAN AND THE FOOL 77 

'So be it,' Bftkl Renauil between his teeth. ' Go thy ways. 
The future shall decide between us.' 

Basile seemed greatly depressed. He turned to go, but 
stopped when he got to the door, and, looking bark, said : 

'Answer me this: Hast thou any love for Adrienne de 
Bois?' 

Renaud stared at the speaker in amazement. Then, break- 
ing into a laugh, he said ; 

'Art thou serious in thy question?' 

' Ay, as God witnesseth !' answered Basile, with a sort of 
>ob. 

Renaud was puczled, and looked at the Jester as though he 
thought he had taken leave of hb senses. Then, after a pause, 
he demanded : 

' What b the purport of thy question ?* 

' Answerroe what I have asked, before thou seekest to fathom 
my motives,' Basile returned. 

Renaud was more puizled, but suddenly, as an idea flashed 
across his mind, he made answer quickly and emphatically : 

' Adrienne de Bois is dearer to me than life, and that man 
who dares to let even his shadow come between her and me, 
shall die as surely as I stand here now.' 

Basile's face darkened, and the lines of care seemed to 
deepen. He approached close to Renaud, and, peering into 
his eyes, hissetl these words ; 

' Knave 1 knew thee to be. Now out of thine own lips thou 
art a self-convicted liar, for thou hast no love for Adrienne de 
Bois. Have a care, or, an thou subject her to wrong, the coat 
of mail b not made that shall shield thy heart from my 
dagger." 

He flung himself out of the room, and Renaud stood like 
one on whom some spell hail been wrought that hail turned 
him to stone. What did this mean t he thought. Was this 
humble Jester mad, or could it be possible that he had the 
audacity to love Adrienne de Bois ? The thing seemed pre- 
posterous ; and yet, as Renaud reflected, he knew that cases 
were not rare where humbly-bom men aspired to gain the 
affections of high-bred women. Basile had much to recom- 
mend him. He was remarkably handsome, with splendidly- 
proportioned limbs, and he acldom failed to win the adniira- 
tioo of the opposite sex. One thing Renaud could not ignore 
• — and that was that he ha<l made a bitter enemy of the Jester. 



78 BASILE THE JESTER 

He felt somehow that he was baffled : baffled first by Adrienne, 
and now by this fool, whom he affected to despise, but whom 
he knew to be a standing danger and an ever-present menace 
to him^ 

CHAPTER Xni. 

WHEN THE SHADOWS WERE DEEPENINOb 

It would not be easy to adequately describe the burning 
indignation Adrienne de Bois felt at the treatment that she 
had been subjected to at the hands of Renaud. If she had 
ever loved him, but it is doubtful if she had, it is certain that 
her feelings had now undergone a complete revulsion, and she 
literally hated him. 

As she sat alone in her room, she wept with bitterness, for 
she was truly unhappy, and was overpowered with a sense of 
loneliness. For a long time the cares of State seemed to 
have so absorbed the Queen's attention that many of her 
early companions and old favourites were forgotten and neg- 
lected. Adrienne was one of those who had suffered in this 
way. But as compensation she had found consolation in Francois. 
Attention to him had given her occupation and unspeakable 
pleasure. But now he had gone with his royal mistress to the 
wars, and Adrienne pined at his absence, and felt more than 
ever lonely. 

Reflecting now on what had occurred, she could not see 
who was going to champion her. Her want of good looks 
had kept wooers away, though there were plenty of needy 
adventurers alx)ut the Court who would have been glad enough 
to have married her for her fortune. But she despised them, 
knowing as she did that it was her money, and not herself, 
they coveted. Even if she had appealed to the Queen, she 
could hardly have hoped to have got a hearing ; for Renaud 
had made liimself a favourite with Mary, partly by his pro- 
fessed zeal in the Catholic cause, and ))artly by his demon- 
strative devotion, which he never lost an opjwrtunity of 
displaying before her Majesty. These thoughts served to 
show Adrienne that, as matters stood at present, she had 
nobody to whom she could appeal, nobody to take into her 
confi(!ence, and ask to avenge the insult of Renaud. She 
decided therefore to hold her peace at present, and wait the 
course of events, hoping that time and circumstances would 



WHEN THE SHADOWS WERE DEEPENING 79 

work in her favour. Nor had she to wait long for this. It is 
the unexpected that always hapjienfi, and it was so in her ease. 

It chanced one evening, less tlmn a week afler that painful 
interview with Renaud, that she was walking alone in the 
shrubbeiy. There had been great rejoicing throughout the 
palace that day, for news had come by special messengers 
that the Queen had gained great victories, and, having com- 
pletely routed her enemies, was returning home in triumph. 
Adrienne had not heard this news unmoved, for apart from 
the pleasure she felt that the Queen had triumphed, she ex- 
perienced a sense of intense delight at the prospect of seeing 
Francois, ner foster son, again before many days had pa.'ised. 
She was lighter-hearted now than she had been for some time, 
and wishing to be alone with her thoughts, she had wandered 
into the shrubbery, where she often went when she was in a 
reflective mood. 

It was a beautiful evening, twilight had softened down all 
the surroundings, and had given a solemn impress! veness 
to the scenery, llie old palace, with its turrets and towers 
and many windows, looked strangely picturesque in the un- 
certain light ; while the distant hills were shadowy and purple, 
with their outlines cut sharply against the dark amber sky. 

In the shrubbery there was a long straight path, shadowed 
with partially overarching trees. This was a favourite retreat 
with Adrienne, and when she wished to be alone with her 
thoughts, she always came here when the weather permitted. 
She felt very pensive on this particular evening. She was 
elated at the prospect of soon seeing Francis again. But her 
elation was tem|>ereJ with some sadness, for she felt that the 
time had come when she could no longer hope to have much 
of Fran9oi8's society. He had entered into manhood, new 
ideas and things would occupy his attention, and he would 
want other company than hers. Her mission had, in fact, 
ended. For a number of years she had watchctl over him, 
and tended him with all a mother's care. But he no longer 
required her care, and her task was done. 

With a sensitive woman such a reflection as this could not 
fail to beget a sense of sadness, and especially was it so in 
Adrienne's case, for her very position causeil her to feel more 
acutely than otherwise she might have done ; for was she not 
away firom her native country, while all her relations and 
fticndi weie in Fnnce? And then there was another thinjj 



80 BASILE THE JESTER 

that was certainly calculated to sour her disposition. Nature 
had been so unkind to her in regard to looks, that she must 
abandon every hope of ever enjoying a husband's love ; for 
though she might have entered into the marriage state, such 
a marriage, so far as* her husband was concerned, would only 
have been a marriage of convenience — ^not of love. She had 
nothing now beyond her fortune to attract. Even the in- 
fluence that she had once possessed with Queen Mary no 
longer existed, so that she was painfully aware that she now 
occupied an anomalous position, and was, in point of fact, a 
mere nonentity in the Court. If she were to die, none would 
mourn her, and if she went away her absence would not be 
noticed. 

Agitated by various conflicting emotions, she promenaded 
up and down for some time. The purple gloom of the hills 
had deepened ; the amber had faded from the sky, and the 
stars were asserting themselves, while the black mass of the 
palace was only relieved by the light that streamed from 
many of its numerous windows. 

Suddenly Adrienne became aware that someone was ap- 
proaching. She was a little startled, and wondered who it 
could be, for the shrubbery was private. But she was not long 
kept in suspense, for a voice said : 

' Art thou reading thy fate in the stars, lady, that thou art 
here alone at so solemn an hour }' 

She instantly recognised the voice as Basile's, and the fear 
which had possessed her gave place to joy fulness, for she liked 
Basile. He had always shown her such marked respect, and 
oftentimes he amused her when she felt sad. And then again, 
secretly, in her woman's heart, she had admired him. He was 
so handsome, so shapely of limb — what woman could fail to do 
that? But never a look, never a word, on her part had 
betrayed her feelings to him ; and he never by sign nor sound 
had indicated that he forgot that he was only a Court jester, 
and she a ladv far, far above him in the social scale. 

'Why, Basile, thou hast come so suddenly upon me,' she 
said, 'that thou hast quickened my pulses with fright As 
to my fate in the stars, fain would I read it, but I know not 
how.' 

' Wouldst thou have me play the r6le of fortune-teller to 
thee, lady sweet ?' 

' In truth would I| an thou Qouldst ; but thou art better able 



WHEN THE SHADOWS WERE DEEPENING 81 

to make me smile at thy wit, than to tell me aught of what 
lies before tne in the mystic future.' 

' It may be so, and yet can I tell thee some things that are 
new to thee, and of which thou hast not dreamed.' 

'Wherefore dost thou speak so solemnly to-nif;ht, good 
Basile ?' she asked with newly-awakened interest, not unmixed 
with curiosity. ' It is not thy wont to be solemn.' 

' Ah, lady,' he sighed, ' the fool's face and the jester's smile 
may often mock his aching heart.' 

Adrienne broke into a little laugh as she said thoughtlessly, 
'Why, Basile, thou hast surely no heart Methought that it 
was only women who possessmi such a thing as that-' 

'God pity me!' he exclaimed in a sobbing tone, that caused 
Adrienne to cry out in surprise : 

' Nay, if I have wounded thee, forgive me. I meant it not.* 

'Thou bast not wounde<1 me. Thou art too gentle for 
that But I have a heart and thoughts. Mademoiselle 
Adrienne ; and lometimes they trouble me.' 

Adrienne could not see the Jester's face, but the tone of his 
voice told her that he was suffering in some way, and so, 
wishing to give another turn to the conversation, she said 
■weetly ; 

' Poor Bnsile, thou most take proper care of tby heart ; and 
let not thy thoughts trouble it But come, let me test thy 
skill as a seer. And mark ye this, sir,' she added with mock 
gravity, ' an thou wouldst not incur my 1»«ting displeasura, 
tell me only those things that are pleaaant' 

' An I had the ordering of thy future, Udy, in veiy truth it 
should be all pleasantry,' Basile answered ; ' but thou art in a 
jesting mood, whereas I — well, God knows, I am very sober.' 

There was something in the roan's manner that struck 
Adrienne, If it did not actually startle her, and thinking per- 
haps that he was in the possession of some ill tiding!*, she said 
quickly : 

' If thou hast aught to tell me, tell it at once, for suspense 
is wor>e than certainty.' 

''Hie hour and the place are suited to what I have to say,' 
he answered gravely. ' There is a shadow over thee, and it 
may be that there is trouble in thy path.' 

Adrienne shudilered aa she remarked : 

' Pray do not fill me with forebodings. If thou canst lay 
nothing better than that I will leave thee, for 1 am ncrvouit. 

6 



82 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Thou hast naught to fear, and yet thou hast an enemy/ 
answered Basile. 

' How knowest thou that ?' she asked eagerly. 

' As I know many things. By keeping my eyes open.' 

'Is it man or woman }' 

' Man.' 

' And his name ?' 

' Is Renaud/ Basile replied. 

Adrienne uttered a suppressed scream, and was unusually 
agitated. 

' Thy assertion requires proof/ she said in a voice that rose 
little above a whisper. 

' I could give thee ample proof that he is a traitor and a 
knave.' 

' Such language as that, sir, about one who holds so high a 
position in the Court, is dangerous,' she exclaimed with 
affected indignation. 

Basile was not deceived by her show of indignation, nor did 
he waver in the purpose that had bi-ought him there, for he 
had come to her by design, and not by accident. 

'I fear no such danger,' he answered. 'I warn thee 
solemnly against Monsieur Renaud. He wears a mask, and 
it is in my power to tear it off and show that he is an im- 
|X)stor.' 

' Thou art bold,' she said, scarcely knowing what to say, and 
yet feeling somehow that he spoke the truth. 

'I .»n i". iir-T.'K- »u.-" •.■■••• '! ^'1 I .i\.. ■■•)■•.;•.-'• ■i^:.ti:Ct" 

• i«I(! ;: Ji.' I'l-ir. -^vt'^ ii:^. I':: ii- • ■ \ '.? dtiUi:. fiiv iitV 

,:ii« Iff '!■: iV iif;i!^ 

i**'W ' »"^ ••*'-^'" i ■'* ■'■•^' ''• ■ ji. ■!' 1- It': ■■i.iir ■•-'i 
•.I'tii j'VKini -■.ir;"*'- r t'. .tiisi; :.i.« ■:«"» o' .i* i. ^ »<^ ■< 

.'•iMiii;^*^ r ■ ijt . M'lil' ■■■■ .1 ;■••■».* in 'v ; VC-:'."-: '•!•- ''[-* |i;:'i ■•'" 

hasiie. 

* For years,' he answered. 

* Then wherefore h;Lst thou so long kept silent ?' 

' That is a question I must not answer now ; but thou mayst 
rest assured that I have had a substantial reason.' 

' I fain would know thy reason,' Adrienne remarked with 
some pique at what she considered Basile's unnecessary reti- 
cence. 

' And maybe some day I will tcU it to thee' 



WHEN THE SHADOWS WERE DEEPENING 83 

' Some day/ she echoed. ' Some day may never come. I 
demand to know thy secret now.' 

' Thy demand Jady, must remain unsatisfied/ Basile answered 
firmly but respectfully. 

Adrienne felt annoyed at having her very natural curiosity 
thus balked, and though she tried not to show this annoy- 
ance, she could not help doing so, as she said with some irony 
in her tone : 

' Since thou hast such a fund of knowledge, good Rasile, is 
there nothing else thou canst tell me, seeing how eager 1 am 
for news Y 

She had no particular object in asking this question, unless, 
perha))s, in a certain shadowy way she thought it might elicit 
something further about Renaud. She was therefore scarcely 
prepared for the answer she received. 

'Ay, that can I,' he said. 

' Well, proceed then. I am all ears.' 

' I can tell thee a story.* 

' Pshaw !' she exclaimed petulantly, and feeling disajv- 
pointe<l, ' I want not thy stories.' 

' Nay, but the one I have to tell will interest thee much.* 

' What is the subject }* she asked somewhat sharply. 

* iMve,* he answered. 

CHAPTER XIV. 

HOW A FOOL TOLD HIS LOVE. 

' Pah !' she exclaimed, ' the theme is too mouldy.' 

* It is ancient, and yet ever new,* he returned, 'and I crave 
thy permission to recite my talc' 

'Some other time, good Basile,' she answered languidly. 
'The dew is falling, and the night grows chill. I must away 
to my clinnibi*r, an I would avoid a sickness.' 

' Stay, lady, 1 pray thee ; and if thou wouldst deign to wear 
it, I would ofltT thee my cloak to keep thee warm.' 

Adrienne wjts amused, and by no means displeased by his 
attention, and she said pleasantly : 

' By'r I^dy, but I am half tempted to hear thy story, an thou 
wilt pledge thyself that it lacks not interest.' 

'That will fdo.* 

' Give me thy clcmk, then. So. It is well lined^ and I feel 
the comfort of it And now to thy tale,' 



84 BASILE THE JESTER 

' It were better that thou shoulclst be seated/ he answered. 
'Thou couldst listen then with more ease. In the bower 
yonder there is a seat. Let me lead thee there.' 

She was rather surprised that he should make such a 
request, and hesitated to comply with it, remarking : 

' Thou art grown bold, BasUe, and reckless. What thinkest 
thou the vulgar voice of scandal would say an we were seen 
sitting in the bower ?* 

' We will not be seen save by yon watching stars, and they 
tell no secrets,' he answered. 

She still found some difficulty in making up her mind ; but 
in a little while her curiosity overcame her prudence. She 
thought that he must have some weighty purpose ; and 
though he had spoken of a love-story, she deemed it pro- 
bable that Renaud would figure in it. In fact, she expected 
a revelation in which he would appear in a discreditable way ; 
for after what Basile had said about him, she inferred that the 
Jester knew much more, and that she would learn that she 
had been befooled by Renaud, whose love was elsewhere. 
It was really this feeling that prompted her to go, and she 
said at last : 

' Come, then, to the bower ; and get thy story quickly told, 
for I must not linger.' 

Basile led the way, and she followed. The bower was so 
dark that nothing was to be seen. A sudden feeling came 
over her that it was not right to be there at such an hour, 
and under such circumstances. But she conquered the feel- 
ing, for she had a conviction now that a revelation was about 
to be made, and that it was to her interest to listen to it. So 
she seated herself, and she knew that he sat down opposite 
her. She shuddered a little, she could not tell why, and drew 
the cloak closer about her shoulders. Tliere was a weird sound 
in the night wind, as it went sighing through the leaves, and 
there were ghostly rustlings all around, while the faint light 
of the stars gave a spectral aspect to the trees and shrubs. 
' Quickly, now, to thy story,' she said in a subdued voice. 
' Thou art impatient, lady.' 

' In truth I am,' she cried, stamping her foot. ' Wherefore 
art thou so tedious } An thou art not quick in the telling of 
that thou hast to tell, I must away.' 

' Nay, gentle lady, be not so impetuous,' he pleaded. ' It 
were well that thou shouldst have patience. My story begins 



HOW A FOOL TOLD HIS LOVE 85 

years ago, and recounts the secret love of odc who Is aa 
dear to me as myself.' 

' Secret love !' ezclaimed Adrienne. ' Come, that is inter- 
esting. But why was the love of thy friend secret ?' 

' Because he looked above him — even as high as the stars.' 

' He was audacious, then,' she remarked. 

' No ; but he was mad — though road only with love, for love 
often makes men mad. He loved in silence, save when no 
human ears were near to hear — then he sighed ; and there were 
times, too, when he wept.' 

' Poor fellow !' 

' Ah, Mademoiselle Adrienne. An you but knew how much 
be sulferet), you would not speak so slightingly.' 

■ Nay, Basile, I am full of pity, believe me. But, tell me, 
did the youth die?' 

' No ; he lives still. He has been content to live in the 
shadow of her who was more preeious to him than life. He 
has watchetl her and followed her, always unknown and in 
silence, and his love, like a smouldering fire, has almost burnt 
his heart to ashes.' 

' Ity'r Lady, but that is sad,' Adrienne said, scarcely able to 
suppress a laugh. 

' You do liut mock. It were better, perhaps, that I told you 
no more,' Itaaile answered with some warmth. 

' No, no ; mistake me not, good BasUe. I am very serious ; 
in truth 1 am. Therefore proceed.' 

' It is a mournful story,' he went on ; 'for love that is not 
requited is like a malady that slowly and painfully slays.' 

' But who was or is this lady whom the lowly youth so 
devoutly adored f asked Adrienne. 

' One who in his eyes was fairer than a lily, and more beau- 
teous than the morning star.' 

' In very truth she must have been a wonder,' exclaimed 
Adrienne, with an apitearance of levtty, though In reality she 
was far feoia being frivolous ; for she was somewhat nervous 
as to her position. If by any possible chance it should be- 
come known that she had hul a secret meeting with Basile, her 
reputation would be seriouHly compromised ; for appearances 
would be decidedly against her, however innocent she might 
be, and in spite of any explanation she could oSer. She 
knew this, and therefore she felt unhappy and unea.sy ; and 
though on the one hand she was burning to know what Basilc'a 



86 BASILE THE JESTER 

purpose was, on the other she felt that she ought not to allow 
him to proceed. She experienced a difficulty, however, in 
making up her mind, for her genuine liking for Basile caused 
her to shrink from wilfully wounding his feelings. But there 
was another view she took, which more directly interested her. 
It was this. Her isolated position in the Court, so to speak, 
placed her at a great disadvantage, and she saw clearly how 
Renaud could injure her, and she would be powerless to 
protect herself or to retaliate. She had discovered how un- 
scrupulous he was, and how utterly indifferent he was to 
other interests where they clashed with his own. 

Fear of him, therefore, and want of a protector, disposed 
her to accept assistance even from the Court Jester. She did 
not pause to consider in what way he could assist her. It 
was enough for her to know that he was a man ; that though 
of humble origin he was a privileged person in the Court ; 
that he had peculiar advantages and frequent opportunities 
of knowing what was going on behind the scenes ; that, 
like the majority of the race of jesters, he was intelligent and 
quick-witted, and so could hardly fail to l>e a valuable ally. 
In short, she knew perfectly well that she might use Basile to 
her own advantage, and secretly play him off against Renaud. 

This was, of course, descending to intrigue, but the exi- 
gencies of her unfortunate position made it almost unavoid- 
able. Besides, she felt that the Jester was to be trusted — 
for his class were bom diplomatists. Humble in origin though 
they were, they breathed an atmosphere of royalty, and learned 
from their earliest years that the fierce light which beats upon 
a palace is apt to magnify into great faults things and acts that 
in other less exalted stations in life would never be observed. 
And this knowledge early instilled naturally developed caution 
in a large degree, and made even a Court dependent a 
diplomat. 

Some such thoughts as the foregoing certainly occupied her 
mind at that moment, and inclined her to run some risk and 
to propitiate Basile. He on his part must have felt pretty sure 
of his ground, or he would never have ventured thus far. But 
he also possessed certain knowledge, which to him was power, 
and placed in his hands a weapon wherewith to strike hLs 
enemy — his enemy in this case being Renaud. Moreover, 
knowing, as he had made it his business to know, that Renaud 
jiad long desired to marry Adrienne^ but that his attentioq9 



HOW A FOOL TOLD HIS LOVE 87 

w«'re distasteful to her, the chances of his winning her favour 
were intinitety greater. 

Replying to her last remark, he said : 

' She « a wonder — to him, at any rate. To him she IS even 
as a blazing star, whose brillianey dazzles him, so that dazed 
and yearningly he gazes ever towards her, while all else 
around him, owing to her light, which fills hts eyes, apjiears 
bluck and meaningless.' 

Adrienne was really nmaze<l at the man's eloquence, and 
though she could not see his face, she knew intuitively that 
his eyes were fixed upon her. She wished herself away one 
instant, and the next desired to stay. She wanted to hear 
his story to the end, but would have preferred to have heard 
it in the light, although the darkness gave her this advantage 
— it preventetl her face from betraying her feelings, 

' 1 think, Basile,' she said timidly— Uj^'Oi thou hadst better 
n-serve the rest of thy st«ry fo^6»%r^i]jy(Vli/SU .{Q be told In 
some other place.' fr- \V'*^^ ' * "* 

' Nay, Mademuiselfe' AdHeim.'nie exclaimed; 'It must be 
told now or never. And as for the place, could mortal man 
choose a more fitting one for a love-story f But what I have 
to tell concerns thee closely, and therefore I crave thy 
hearing.' 

' Proceed quickly, then,' she said with some agitation ; ' an 
thy story is meant as a parable, thou need'st not make it long. 
And if, as thou snyest, it concerns me closely, keep me not in 
suspense, but cume at once to the point thou wouldst illus* 
trate." 

'Give me leave. Mistress Adrienne, to tell It in my own way,' 
he answered. ' The story covers a space of many years, and 
therefore cniinot be toh) in a few minutes. It begins when 
the h«ly wns a bright-eyed child, with a wealth of dark rinjileU 
clu!>tering alxmt her white shoulders, and he,anamelcss youth, 
gazing with rupture on her. even as one might gaceona vision.' 

'It is a veritable romance,' Adrienne remarked, for the sake 
of saying Mimelhing to fill up a pause. 

' A romance in very truth,' he said ; ' for she was far up 
above him, and the poor youth could not, dare not attempt 
to reach her. He could only sig^ in hLs loneliness, and curve 
the fate that had made the gul;' between them.' 

' Poor Ixiy !' Adrienne remarked feelingly. ' But tell me, 
good Basile, did nut time cure him of his hopeless pa-ssion ?' 



88 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Alas ! no. He and she grew up together — yet always parted 
by that gulf.' 

' And breathed he no syllable of his love Y 

' No. Neither by word nor look did he ever tell her how 
fierce was his passion.' 

' Love should have no fear/ Adrienne remarked. 

' Thou art forgetting/ Basile answered, ' that the lady was 
exalted, and the youth was very humble.' 

' But love levels/ said Adrienne. 

' Ah, sayest thou so ?' cried Basile eagerly ; and Adrienne 
became very agitated as she perceived how she had committed 
herself by the thoughtless remark. ' If she for whom this 
man sighs would say so and think so from her heart, his hap- 
piness would be complete,' Basile added. 

Adrienne was confused, and scarcely knew what to say in 
response, and for a moment an impulse came upon her to get 
up and go away as fast as she could without uttering another 
word. But she conquered this impulse, because it seemed to 
her a somewhat foohsh thing, after having consented to listen 
so long. Then, in order to somewhat counteract the effects 
of her words, she said : 

' Of course I mean that love levels only when there is love 
on both sides.' 

' Ay, that is so,' Basile remarked in an absent-minded sort 
of way, and with such a long-drawn sigh that a chord of 
S3rmpathy was struck in his listener's breast, and she could not 
refrain from saying : 

' Thou art full of sorrow to-night Basile. Whence comes 
that sigh ?' 

' From my heart,' he answered. 

' But why should thy heart be stricken ?* 
I Mill tell thee, lady,' he said with great earnestness. 'And 
since thou art so pitiful, thou wilt, I am sure, advise me. Is 
that not so Y 

' An it comes within my power to give advice that is worth 
receiving, then thou canst count upon it/ she answered, grow- 
ing more and more uneasy, and wishing that she could invent 
some excuse for putting an end to the interview. ' But,' she 
added, ' my poor judgment is so apt to be wrong, that I am 
fain to believe it were better in thy interests that thou 
shouldst appeal to someone more qualified than I am.' 

' Thou art traitor to thyself now,* he said ; ' and unwittingly 



HOW A FOOL TOLD HIS LOVE 89 

thou art mocking me. Thy judgment, and thine alone, I would 
receive in this matter, for 1 ttm the man of whom I have 

' Thou !' exclaimed Adrienne, evincing surprise, but feeling 
none. 

* Even I, lady. I, from my lowly position, have dared to 
gate up to the height where she shines like a star. Tel) me, 
tell me, I implore thee, should I confess my love, and risk 
her fiery scorn, or keep it secret In my breast, and die with 
the burden of it f 

' Thou imposest apon me a task full of delicacy,' Adrienne 
replied in distress, and feeling that she was only becoming 
more hopelessly entangled in the net that he had spread for 
her. ' An I knew the lady, then might I answer thee. Women 
have ere now stoojicd to lowly men, and raised them to their 
level. But so much depends on circumitances, and in this 
instance I have nothing to guide me.' 

Basile was silent for a little while. The nause was an awk- 
ward one for Adrienne, for she knew not now he bad taken 
her remarks, since she could not see his face. She herself was 
nervously agitated. Her heart was throbbing wildly, and her 
brow was burning. 

' What wouldst thou have to guide thee ?' be asked at last 
'This much I can tell thee: the lady is as gentle as a dove, ami 
not scornful, but very pitiful, and of a sweetness that passetb 
words.' 

' Surely a paragon,' Adrienne remarked. 

' Surely a paragon,' be echoed ; ' and now that thou bast thfa 
knowledge, tell me if I should proclaim my love to her.' 

' Tlie honest love of an honest man ought not to beget a 
woman's .scorn, even though she could not accept it,' Adrienne 
answered prevaricatingly. 

'Thou dost but trifle with me,' he answered In a tone of 
dLsa[)pointment 

' No, an I hope for mercy,' she said quickly, 'but I know 
not what else to say to thee.' 

'Tell me if it would be an act of too daring presumption to 
make my love known,' he rricd vpnminglv. 

' She iiiiKht nt l(-ii>.t forgive tliec, an she be all thou bast 
described,' replied Adrienne, still prevaricating. 

' She might— she might,' said Itasilc, as if to himself; ' she 
might not smite me wiili the nnger of her eyes, nor yet call 



90 BASILE THE JESTER 

aloud for a champion to pour out my plebeian blood. Those 
things she would not do, I am sure, because she is very gentle. 
But for evermore she might scorn me, and infinitely rather 
would I have her openly>cxpressed hate than her silent scorn, 
for that would be unbearable. Love that is scorned becomes 
a fiery madness.' 

'Since thou art in such desperate straits/ said Adrienne, 
wishing to bring the conference to a climax, ' it were, perhaps, 
better that thou shouldst declare thy love, and leave the rest 
to chance.' 

The next moment she was aware that he was on his knees 
at her feet, and she felt his warm breath on her hand as he 
seized it and pressed it to his lips. Her head was in a whirl 
Mrith confusion, and her heart seemed to leap into her mouth. 
Then she heard, as one might hear in a dream, these passionate 
words : 

' Slay me, an thou wilt, for willingly would I die by thy hands. 
To live without thee longer were to live a life of torture. There- 
fore it were better — a thousand times better — that I were 
dead. Listen to me. I, Basile the Jester, Basile the buffoon, 
Basile the fool, love thee, love thee — Adrienne de Bois.' 

CHAPTER XV. 

HUSBAND AND WIFE — KINO AND QUEEN. 

Marv Queen or Scots returned firom her personally con- 
ducted cam{>aign flushed with victory, for she had thoroughly 
routed her brother, the Earl of Murray, who had fled for 
protection into England. But though thus far she had 
triumphed, her path was beset Mrith thorns, her life was full 
of difficulty. The kingdom was torn with internal dissension, 
and the stem, uncompromising bigot Knox was foment- 
ing deep hatred against those who professed adherence to 
the Romish Church. The light of the Reformation was 
dawning over the land, but those who took upon themselves 
to herald it were sullying the justness of their cause, and 
mocking the holiness of the doctrine they proclaimed, by 
mercilessness, uncharitableness, and fierce cruelty. 

All classes of society had their traitorous zealots, who in the 
name of God were ready to denounce their dearest friends, if 
those friends chose to hold different theological views from 



HUSBAND AND WIFE— KING AND QUEEN 91 

their own. In thf palace itself treason, like on insidious 
serpent, made its slimy way, and nobody knew the moment 
that it might raise its head and strike. Protestant Klizabeth 
of England was intriguing against CathoHc Mary of Stntland, 
and the air was thick with disquieting rumours, while trade 
languished and the progress of civilisation was for the time 
being blocked. If Mary at this time, and in the hour of her 
victory, bad been magnanimous, and had pardoned her 
enemies, she might have won their ultimate regard and in- 
sured their fidelity. In particular should she have been so 
with her brother, for he had met with humiliation, insult, and 
rebuff at the English Court, and he would gladly have 
accepted pardon at his sister's hands ; for he sued for it 
humbly through her favourite David Rizcio. But her passion 
was too strong to allow her to be politic, and she determined 
to have her brother condemned by her own Parliament as a 
traitor. Though she had traitors nearer to her whom it would 
have been well for her had she routed out 

Her handsome favourite Riuio was as an apple of discord 
in her Court This young Italian was an agent of the Pope, 
and he was bitterly opposed to the Prote^itnnt party. But 
what was of even more consequence was the jealousy he be- 
gat in the Queen's husliand. Lord Damley. This jealousy 
was destined to soon lead to an open rupture ; and one day, 
when Damley had clouded his brain with the fumes of wine, 
he forced himself into the presence of his royal wife. 

' Madame,' he exclaimed, ' I come to claim iny rights. 
Thou hast made me but as a pupjiet in thy kingdom, and now 
I demand that thou place upon me the crown matrimonial, so 
that 1 may share with thee the government of this realm.' 

' Demand T eselairaed the Queen haughtily, and with an 
imperious toss of her beautiful head. ' I respect no demands 
from my inferiors. Thy insolence shall not go unpunished. 
In the meantime it would be well for thee to leam how to 
treat thy wife with the respect that is due to her, and also to 
team loyalty to thy Queen, lest we suspect thee of treat^herj-.' 

'Think not, modame, that by this display of temper tliou 
canst put me from my rights. Thou hast allowed that villain 
David Riuio to dishonour me, and it were well for thy peace 
and mine that thou shouldst dbraiss him.' 

' Tliat will I not,' cried the Queen passionately ; ' thy hccu- 
■atioai are biae, thy insinuations (UsgracefuL RizEio is « 



92 BASILE THE JESTER 

venr faonest gentleman, full of loyalty to me, and ready to 
dc^nd my honour with his life.' 

' Thy honour !' sneered Damley ; ' «n thou wouldst protect 
that from calumny, thou must choose a defender who holds 
it less lightly than this dog Rizdo.' 

Livid with passion, Damley strode out of the Queen's 
apartment, and then, giving way to her feelings, Mai^' sank 
down and wept bitterly. Soon the door of an anteroom 
opened, and Adrienne de Bois entered hurriedly, and threw 
herself at her royal mistress's feet 

' Wherefore these tears, sweet Queen ?' she said soothingly, 
as she toyed with Maiy's luxuriant hair. ' Nay, your Majesty, 
let not grief shake thee thus. Tears do hut mar thy Grace's 
beauty. Wherefore art thou so unhappy ?' 

' Alas ! good Adrienne, I am sorely hurt here,' indicating 
her heart. ' My Lord Damley has insulted me ; nay, had I 
been his strumpet instead of his Queen, his language could 
not have been more violent.' 

' Let it not trouble thee,' Adrienne said. ' Your Majesty's 
honour and virtue cannot be assailed. Come, let me dry 
those tears. Tears suit thee not. Thou shoutdst be all 
smiles.' 

' Ay, should be !' moaned the Queen ; ' but enemies sur^ 
round me ; intrigue is at work, and there are traitors every- 
where," 

' But thou hast friends also, true and loyal and stanch,' 
urged Adrienne, as she wiped the Queen's face and smoothed 
back her hair from her forehead. 

' Thou art one of them, sweet Adrienne,' said the Queen, 
as she kissed her companion, and then, rising, allowed herself 
to be led to a seat Suddenly sinking her voice, and with 
her arm round the neck of Adrienne and her cheek pressed 
to heis, she asked : ' Dost thou think that danger threatens 
Rizzio?' 

' Danger, your Majesty — danger of what Y 

'Nay, I scarcely know,' rephed the Queen. 'Methinks I 
am growing nervous and unnecessarily apprehensive ; but thou 
knowest, sweety that they bate David.' 

' By my faith, your Majesty, that is news to me,' Adrienne 
said, not wishing to make the Queen uneasy. 

''Tutl'soid the Queen a little sharply; 'perjure not thyself 
Thou knowest well it is so. There, I am better now,' she 



HER MAJESTY GIVES A PLEDGE 93 

continued, as she lose and smoothed the folds of her collar. 
' I thuik thee for thy consolation ; but I vould be alone. 
Leave me, f^ood Adrienne. Stay, in half an hour send thy 
foster son Francois tome here. I would have speech with him.' 
' I will, your Majesty,' Adrienne replied as, making a low 
bow, she withdrew. 

CHAPTER XVL 

HKR MAJESTY OIVB A PLIDOB. 

In obedience to the Queen's commands, Fnn^ols duly pre- 
sented himself in her Majesty's apartment 

He was a tall, strikingly handsome youth, with the limbs 
of an Apollo. He had a mass of soft, rilken, brown hair that 
clustered in a tangle of curb about his shapely head. The 
face was perfect ; the skin, fair almost as a girl's, was deli- 
cately tinted with the ruddy hue of health. His eyes were 
quick, keen, piercing, and dark, and his straight-cut nostrils 
indicated decision of character. His age, judging from his 
looks, might have been anything from seventeen to twenty- 
five. Sometimes, when a characteristic smile rippled over his 
handsome face, he appeared a mere boy, but when this gave 
way to an equally characteristic frown of determination he 
was a nun. 

He was handsomely dressed In velvet shoes, lavender- 
ooloured hose without trunks, and a tightly-fitting tunic of 
dark-red material, trimmed with amber braid, and vandyked 
In the skirt, which did not quite reach to his knees. Round 
his waist was a costly and handsome girdle, from which de- 
pended a small dagger with an ivory handle inlaid with gold. 
The ginlle was velvet, elaborately worked with real thread of 
gold. The sleeves of his tunic came down to his wrists, and 
were relieved by a small trimming of lace. 

He bowed very low as he entered, and the Queen could 
not help gazing on him with admiration, for he was a picture 
of lusty health and perfect symmetry, and no more handsome 
▼outfa, even in that age celebrated fur handsome men, could 
have been found in all Scotland. 

' Fran9ois, thou lovest me,' the Queen said, as she stretched 
forth her luuid, which he touched gracefully with his lips as 
be knelt on one knee before her. 



94 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Your Majesty knows fiill well I do,' he answered in a voice 
that was clear and sweet as a bell. 

' I think thou dost/ the Queen returned, as withdrawing 
her hand she seated herself, while he continued to kneel. 

'I crave your Grace to say that you are sure/ Francois 
replied. 

' Rise/ she said, without heeding his remark. As he 
obeyed her command and stood before her, she noticed his 
handsome girdle and dagger, and exclaimed in surprise: 
' God's truth, boy, but thou hast a costly belt and poniard. 
Unless my wit's at fault, I dare be sworn they are a love-gift. 
I see in fancy the white fingers of some love-sick girl broidering 
those cunning curves of gold. Beshrew me, but thou art 
blushing, and that scarlet in thy cheek tells its own tale. 
Whose fingers were they that wrought thy girdle, Fran9ois ? 
Nay, man, do not grow so confused. An thy love be well 
placed, thou canst count upon my favour. But have a care, 
Francois. Women are dangerous cattle, and thou art young. 
And for thy misfortune, God has given thee a handsome face. 
Beware, lest the siren voice of flattery leail thee into 
dangerous paths. And, Francois, an thou wouldst be advised 
by me, let no woman steal thy young heart Thou hast 
plenty of years before thee yet, and can afford to wait But 
when did the hot blood of youth stay to the voice of reason } 
Youth must have its fling, so I'll let thee go thy way. But 
I am curious, Fran9ois, to know the name of her who has 
won thy smiles. Is she dark or fair ?' 

Fran9ois was betrayed by this question. He had been 
much confused by her Majesty's playful remarks, and he had 
strong reasons for withholding the information ; but that ques- 
tion led him into a trap, and he said : 

' She is dark, an it please your Majesty.' 

' Oh, oh !' cried the Queen ; ' then I guess aright, and thou 
art in love.' 

' Alas ! your Majesty, it is so,' Francis murmured bash- 
fully, as he once more knelt before the Queen, and bowed his 
head so that she might not see his scarlet face. 

' Alas !' exclaimed the Queen, with a laugh, ' is that the 
word thou usest And then thy sighs, too. Alack and aday, 
but thou must have the disease badly.' 

' An it please your Majesty,' said Fran9ois,. 'I would humbly 
crave your Grace not to make light of my very sincere {lasbion.' 



HER MAJESTY GIVES A PLEDGE 95 

'But It doesn't please our Majesty,' answered the Queen 
gocxl-huniouredly, and evidently enjoying the situation very 
much. ' And so thou really believest thou art in love. Oh, 
l>y my faith, but this is humorous. Hast ever heard of calf- 
love, boy ?' 

'An it please your Majesty, I knew not that calves loved,' 
mumbled Francis, as he played nervously with the tabs of 
his tunic, and altogether felt very uncomfortable. 

' Go to, thou silly oaf!' cried the Queen. ' Thou art a calf, 
and thou art in love. Therefore thou hast calf-love. It is a 
bad disease, but doesn't last long. Thou wilt recover soon. 
Why, thy beard is not yet grown, and until men have beards, 
they know not how to love.' 

' Nay, an it please you ' 

' Tut, silly boy !' said the Queen, interrupting him ; 'what 
canst thou know of the tender paasion f 

' As yet not much, I own,' answered FrBn9ois, feeling im- 
pelled to defend himself from the Queen's badinage; 'but 
the little experience I have gained teaches me that it is very 
good." 

' Vefy good indeed,' replied the Queen. ' A sugar pasty 
and a conserve with it were better. Thou must cut thy 
wisdom-teeth before drinking of love. But, come, let us 
know wiiat goose it is that has made such a gander of thee.' 

Francois was excessively annoyed, but he dare not give the 
slightest sign of his annoyance, and he was also troubled and 
uneasy in his mind, for he had reason to know that the lady 
upon whom he had fixed his affections would not find favour 
in the Queen's sight. He bitterly regretted now that he bad 
been so silly as to display his fancy belt and toy dagger, for 
to them be owed his predicament But it is seldom the 
vanity of youth is curbed by caution ; and in Francois's case 
it had led him into an unpleasant position. 

He had learnt too much of the courtier's duties not to 
know that it would be dangeroua to flatly refuse her Majesty's 
request But he tried to avoid answering her by a little 
finessing, and so he said : 

'Since your Majesty is pleased to think me too young to 
have a serious love-aRair, I would very humbly crave per- 
mission to be allowed to keep secret the name of the lady in 
order that she may be spared the ridicule which this very 
■illy nutter seems likely to raise.' 



96 BASILE THE JESTER 

The Queen was astonished, but not displeased with this 
answer, and she said : 

' By the rood, but thou hast the makings of an ambassador 
in thee. I give thee credit also for thy chivalry, but I am a 
woman, and therefore curious, and so I wish to know thy 
lady-love.' 

' But your Majesty * 

' But, sirrah, there are no buts in it,' interrupted the Queen, 
speaking with some severity. ' An thou wouldst avoid our 
displeasure, but me not, but answer the question.' 

Fran9oi8 was greatly distressed as he saw that he must 
comply. And so he said tremulously : 

' The lady's name, your Majesty, is Lilian Bomcester. 

' Bomcester — Bomcester,' mused the Queen. Dost mean 
the daughter of the mercer ?' 

' The same, your Majesty.' 

At this announcement the Queen's manner wholly changed. 
The humorous, pleasant expression of her face gave place to 
passionate anger. Her nostrils dilated and her eyes flashed, 
while the workings of her mouth told that she was greatly 
excited and agitated. 

' Francis,' she cried almost fiercely, ' an thou wert not an 
inexperienced and foolish youth, thou shouldst hang like a 
dog. Rise, sirrah.' Up to this time he had knelt on one 
knee before the Queen, but now at her stem command he 
rose and stood with bowed head and abashed mien before her. 
' Knowest thou not that Bomcester is a bitter and relentless 
foe to us ? He is a blind and fanatical worshipper of the 
loud-mouthed heretic Knox ; and even our royal person would 
not be safe from his madness an he had power to work his 
dangerous wilL Speak, sirrah; hadst thou not this know- 
ledge ?' 

' In very truth no, your Majesty,' answered Francois, look- 
ing at the Queen fearlessly now. ' Though I have heard that 
Bomcester walked in the new faith, and was therefore distaste- 
ful to your Majesty.' 

' And knowing this, thou hast dared to hold communication 
with his daughter.' 

' I have, your Majesty ; but her beauty enthralled me.' 

His frank confession seemed to please the Queen, whose 
manner softened. 

' Come hither,' she said, and as he approached she laid her 



HER MAJESTY GIVES A PLEDGE 97 

hand on his head and peered fixedly into his face, and he 
met her gaze without flinching. ' Francois, thou art honest.' 

' I fain would hope so, your Majesty.' 

' And full of loyalty to us.' 

' As I hope for mercy in heaven, yes.* 

She took her hand away, and said : 

'Thou art a brave youth, and I forgive thee thy folly. 
But listen, Fran9ois. If thou hold'st further communication 
with that daughter of the devil, thou wilt be guilty of treason, 
and though thou wert twenty times more precious to us than 
thou art — nay, an thou wert our own son — our relentless 
vengeance should fall on thee. Look to it, boy, for it were 
better thou hadst never been bom than to incur our wrath. 
Take off that gewgaw ' — pointing to his belt — ' and never 
offend my eyes again with it' 

Francois hurriedly unclasped the girdle, and, crushing it up 
in his hand, he said with passionate earnestness : 

' Your Majesty, doubt me not I am your Majesty's loyal, 
humble, and loving servant, and nothing on earth shall warp 
my allegiance.' 

The Queen was greatly pleased, and, commanding him to 
rise, said : 

' Brave child, thy loyalty and love shall find their reward. 
Look in my face. Thou hast good eyes, keep them open ; 
and thy ears, let them never be closed, for there are traitors 
hi our G>urt, and we need such as thee to spy them out 
Dost understand ?' 

' I do, your Majesty.' 

'Good. Weigh well our words. Be honest, true, and 
faithful, and there is a great future before thee. Thou mayst 
go now. Stay— come here !' She took his head between her 
hands, and touche<l lightly with her hps his upturned fore- 
head. ' Thy Queen salutes thee,' she said. ' Let that kiss be 
as a solemn pledge that thy loyalty shall be richly paid for. 
Pledge me in return that thy fidelity is a thing beyond price ' 

She inclined her face towards him. He understood her 
meaning, and he kissed her on the lips. Then, in ol)edience 
to her command, he left her. When the door had closed 
behind him, the Queen muttered to herself : 

' lliat is a noble youth, and will serve us loyally. It is well 
to have such trusted servitors near our person in these traitorous 
times.' 

7 



98 BASILE THE JESTER 



CHAPTER XVIL 

IT WAS EVER THUS. 

As Francois left the Queen's apartment, his head was in a whirl 
with ambitious dreams, begotten by her Majesty's promises, 
and the honour she had done him in kissing him, and allowing 
him to kiss her in return. She could hardly have given any 
more decided sign of her esteem, reganl, and trust, and he 
burned with pride as he thought of it. 

So excited and elated was he that he hurried to his chamber 
in order that he might be alone and give full vent to his fancy 
and his feelings. On the hearthstone burned a log, and with 
a gesture of contempt he hurled his girdle and the dagger on 
to the fire, exclaiming as he did so : 

' I have been a fool, but am so no longer. Lilian Bomcester 
has wealth and beauty ; but neither her beauty nor her wealth 
shall tempt me. My duty is to my Queen, and for her I will 
give my heart's blood. I will be faithful to her unto death.' 

Every word and sentiment he uttered was the genuine 
outcome of his feelings at that moment ; and had he there 
and then been called upon to defend her Majesty, he would, 
like a lion at bay, have faced any odds. The royal kiss had 
fired his blood and filled him with enthusiasm, and his 
romantic nature made him yearn to do deeds of renown in the 
Queen's cause. 

' Dear Queen,' he thought, ' my love, my undying devotion, 
my every act and deed, are thine, and for thee.' 

In imagination, he peered into the future, and he saw him- 
self, as the Queen's favourite, enjoying honours and high office. 
He thrilled with pleasurable emotion, and prayed in his heart 
that ere long the chance might be afforded him of proving, by 
gallant deeds, how devoted and true he was to her Majesty. 

He turned toward the fire, and he saw that the beautiful 
ginlle had been consumed to ashes ; and the pretty dagger 
was burnt out of all recognition of its former self. 

' Thus dissolves my silly dream and ends my escapade,' he 
murmured. 

In giving utterance to this tl^ought, he believed — firmly 
believed — it was the absolute truth. But very soon he had to 
recognise that by the burning of his co«itly love-gifl he had 



IT WAS EVER THUS 99 

not cast out Lilian's image from his brain. She luunted him, 
thouffh he tried hard not to think of her ; but his efforts were 
all of no svwl, for with his eyes shut or his eyes open he saw 
her sweet face, turn which way he would. When later on he 
pressed his couch, sleep came not to him, and his chamber 
seemed to be filled with a subtle presence which his restless 
brain fashioned into Lilian, and he began to think to himself 
that it was hard that unkind circumstances compelled him to 
give up Lilian, whose beauty was a theme of admiration 
thrnu;;hout the town, and who was unanimously voted the Belle 
of Edinburgh. 

There were young men who would almost have sold their 
immortal souls to have possessed her ; and yet he, the 
favoured one, he, who had been privileged to whisper sweet 
love words into her ear, and to receive in return the warm 
kisses of her exquisite lips, must give her up — must come to 
know in time that the nectar which he had sifiped with ravish- 
ing delight was being enjoyed by another, and that her beauty 
and her wealth were lost to him. It was a bitter and trying 
reflection for a romantic youth, and it put his loyalty to a very 
severe test 

It was the Queen or Lilian he had to choose between. He 
must give up one or the other. Bomcester, as he knew, was 
the Queen's enemy, and therefore to love the daughter of the 
enemy of the Queen was to be guilty of faithlessness to the 
Queen, who could give him power and greatness. 

His duty was to her Majesty, and he fully recognised that ; 
but love is a powerful factor in the calculations of youth, and 
his boyish heart went out towards the beautiful Lilian. 

With conflicting emotions of this kind racking him, he tossed 
for hours, restless and sleepless, until at last he believed that 
he had triumphed over his heart, that he had steeled it sgainst 
Lilian. Henceforth be would be adamant, upon wliioh it 
would be impoNHible for her tender glances to make im- 
pression ; and his ears should be perfectly deaf to her sighs, 
let her sigh never so pitifully. He rose with the sun, an<l 
arranged his wealth of curly hair, and gazed on his hanclM>me 
face and form with boyish vanity. But he firmly believed 
now that hb loyalty was a fixed quantity, anil that nothing 
could change it ' I am the Queen's favourite,' he thought, 
'and I will serve her to the death.' 

A tittle later he went to the lodgings of bis supposed father. 



100 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Thou hast a tired look this morning, Fran9ois, as though 
thy rest had been broken/ said Renaud. 

* I slept not well, sir/ Fran9ois answered. 

' I hear from Mademoiselle Adrienne that the Queen gave 
thee an audience yester-eve/ Renaud observed, as he searched 
Fran9ois' face. ' Mayhap her Majesty is responsible for thy 
lack of sleep.' 

'In truth, that is so, sir.' 

' Why, and how } Sit thee down, boy, and tell me what 
said the Queen, that thou shouldst be so affected.' 

' It came about, sir, that her Majesty learned from me that 
I have had love passages with Lilian Bomcester.' 

' Ah !' exclaimed Renaud eagerly, and with a display of 
anxiety ; ' and what said her Majesty }* 

'She was exceedingly angerecl.* 

'As well she might be,' observed Renaud thoughtfiilly. 
' But wherefore wert thou such a fool as to let her Majesty 
know.^ 

* Alas ! sir, she drew it from me.' 

' Foolish youth ! Thou hast undone thyself,' Renaud said 
bitterly. 

' No, in truth, sir, for I have vowed fidelity to the Queen.' 

' But thou must abandon Lilian,' Renaud cried quickly. 

' Ay, sir, that is my duty.' 

' Tut, boy ! Thy duty, forsooth ! Thy first duty is to thy- 
self,' said Renaud, with an expression of disgust. 

Francois looked very troubled, and he began to struggle 
¥dth himself again. 

' Do you counsel me, sir, to be false to the Queen Y he 
asked in distress. 

* False — no. But thou art taking too serious a view of the 
case. Thou knowest well that I brought thee in contact with 
Lilian Bomcester, wishing thee to possess her for the sake of 
her wealth. I have fostered her regard for thee and thine for 
her; and now thou hast allowed thy silly tongue to betray 
thee.' 

' You forget, sir, I am a servant of the Queen.* 
' I forget nothing, boy,* said Renaud angrily ; ' but dost 
thou for a moment dream that her Majesty will go out of her 
way to sen'e thee ? Thou art far too humble and unimportant 
for her to specially remember thee amongst the crowds of 
sycophants who surround her. Look to thyself ! The making 



IT WAS EVER THUS 101 

of thy future is in thine own hands. Lilian will bring thee 
wealth, and wealth is power. Besides, I am hopeful of bein^ 
able to reconcile her Majesty to Bomcester. He is a friend 
of mine, and I would wish my friends to be in the Queen's 
favour. I am a loyal servant of her Majesty, and I work to 
serve her, and I cannot better serve her than by bringing her 
rebellious subjects to see the error of their way. Could any- 
thing tend more surely to bring Bomcester over to our side 
than thy union with his daughter V 

Fran9ois was quite carried away by the sophistry of this 
argument, and his good resolutions of the previous night were 
shaken to pieces. 

If his father, as he believed him to be, advised him thus, 
was it not better, if not an absolute duty, that he should profit 
by that advice and follow it ? It is true that on the previous 
night he had pledged himself to loyal fidelity, and had had 
the honour of sealing that pledge on her Majesty's lips ; but 
was not Lilian beautiful, and was it not possible that through 
Lilian he might bring her father, who was a powerful and influ- 
ential citizen, over to the Queen's camp ? Therefore, would 
it not be an immense gain if he succeeded in doing that ? 

It was a struggle in his mind between Queen and love. 
For which should he declare ? 

' Perhaps you are right, sire,' he said, ' and yet her Majesty 
exacted from me a solemn pledge to be faithful to her. 
Should I not violate that pledge if I do that which I know to 
be contrary to her wishes ?^ 

' I fail to see that thou wouldst be guilty of any violation 
in endeavouring to gain for her the allegiance of one who has 
fidlen away. Her Majesty takes strange and unju.stifiable 
prejudices, and she oflen imposes very grinding duties on those 
who love her most.' 

'But Bomcester i.* imfilacable,' cried out Fran9ois in his 
distress, for his mind was once more racked with conflicting 
thoughts. 

' Implacable !' echoed Renaud, with a sneer ; ' and what 
of that ? Is Lilian implacable ? If her heart is thine, dost 
thou not think thou canst mould it to thy wishes ? An 
thou canst not, then art thou unfit to have a wife. 
Assuming that Lilian were thy wife, wouldst thou not have a 
powerful lever to use against her father ? But, an he refused 
to be reconciled, thy wife would follow thee and be as loyal 



108 BASILE THE JESTER 

as thou art. And thou wouldst have gmincd besides — a fortune. 
For, an rumour speaks true, there is no wealthier citisen in all 
Edinburgh than Bomcester, and half his wealth is irrevocably 
settlefl on his daunhter,' 

If Francis had been older and more experienced, it is 
probable that Renaud would have had to advance more 
cogent reasons than he had done before he had succeeded in 
shaking Francis's fidelity to the Queen. But, as it was now, 
every word told on the youth, and he argued with himself as 
youth ever argues, that it was very hard and very unfair that 
he, being in love with a young woman, should not be allowed 
to follow the bent of his own inclinations in the matter. This, 
of course, was fallacious reasoning, but a young man is 
generally fallacious in matters of early love. 

Of course Fran9ois tried to find alt sorts of excuses for 
breaking away from his pledge. ' Lilian is beautitul,' he 
thought, 'and Lilian is rich; and, then, she has never expressed 
any feeling against the Queen ; and being a woman, and so 
gentle and loving, how could the bear hatred and animosity Y 

It will thus be seen what a conflict he waged with himself, 
and the distress it caused him may be inferred from his ex- 
clamation : 

'Sir, I am so troubled that I wish I were &r awaj lirom 
here, or else lying dead.' 

Renaud broke into a mocking laugh, and answered ; 

' Shame on thee, boy ! Art thou a coward ?* 

' No, by heaven and earth !' 

' Why then utter such a coward's wish ? True love brooks 
no interference. Win thy lady and fortune first, and then serve 
th, Queen.' 

' But surely, sire, you do not counsel me to openly rebel 
against her Majesty's commands ?' Franfois asked, with a 
puutled look on his handsome face. 

' Poor boy !' said Renaud, with contempt ; ' hast thou lived 
in a palace all these years only to ask such a foolish question 
as that i An thou set value on thy place and life, thou must 
conduct thy affairs in secrecy. Let not thy right hand know 
what thy left iloeth. Go thy ways in stealth ; and let thy 
goings out and comings in be shrouded in mystery. Woo thy 
lady-love in secret, and marry her in secret, and breathe no 
syllable of thy business to thy dearest friends, not even to \itx 
who has been a mother to thee.' 



I 



BE SILENT, CAUTIOUS, WATCHFUL* lOS 

'And this, sir, is your advice ?' Fran9ois asked. 

' It is. Go thy ways. Be secret and silent as death, and 
fortune and success will attend thee.' 

'I will follow your advice, sir,' the youth said, standing 
before Renaud with downcast eyes, as though conscience 
somehow was pricking him. It certainly did tell him that his 
decision must l>e for love or Queen ; and he answered it and 
declared for love, little recking of the danger into which that 
was to lead him. 

When he had gone, Renaud smiled, and, rubbing his white 
hands about each other with a movement of self-gratification, 
he said to himself : 

' Adrienne de Bois, I shall conquer thee yet' 

CHAPTER XVIIL 

'BI SILENT, CAUTIOUS, WATCHFUU* 

Basilb the Jester's confession of love did not altogether 
surprise Adrienne de Bois. She would have been very stupid 
and very obtuse indeed had she failed to notice how for a 
long time he had regarded her with silent admiration, how 
by a hundred ways and signs he had proclaimed that she was 
dear to him. But, still, though she knew this, she was 
scarcely prepared for the open acknowledgment of his passion, 
and she was conscious that she was in a predicament. She 
was puzzled how to act She did not feel angry with him, 
but she did feel that between him and her was a gulf. Could 
she bridge it ? 

In a sort of mental bird's-eye view she took in all the course 
d her life from its earliest years, and she saw how her hopes 
and aspirations had been unrealized. She had, it is true, been 
bom to high estate, and had lived amidst wealth and pomp ; 
but in most human natures, and especially in a woman's nature, 
there is a yearning for something else. To be a mere puppet 
amongst the living, and to fill a nameless part in the stirring 
drama of life, is what few women of spirit care for. Adrienne's 
childhood had been happy enough, and, in fact, up to the 
time of Mary Stuart's marriage she had never known what it 
was to have the suspicion of a shadow fall over the bright path 
of her existence. But soon af\cr that event she came 
gradually to realize that the close ci)m|Minionship that had 



104 BASILE THE JESTER 

erstwhile existed between her and the Dauphiness could not 
of necessity exist any longer. With her marriage Mary's 
sphere was enlarged, and new S3rmpathies, new attachments, 
new duties, demanded her attention, so that old friends and 
old lovers were to a considerable extent crowded into the 
background. And it was in the light of this dawning know- 
ledge that Adrienne de Bois began to perceive that she stood 
very much alone. Her fortune at that time was only small, 
totally insufficient in the absence of physical beauty to attract 
suitors. Now, she was fully aware that she had nothing to 
recommend her to the notice of men, and so when she 
obtained the charge of the child Fran9ois she felt somewhat 
compensated, and when, a little later still, the supposed father 
of the boy asked her for her love, she was flattered and pleased, 
and there is little doubt that she would have become Renaud's 
wife had it not been for the mysterious warning, so mysteri- 
ously conveyed. 

Years had passed since then, and Renaud had risen from 
obscurity to power, and, with the coward's nature, he had 
resented her refusal of him by a long series of petty acts of 
tyranny and annoyance, which had absolutely made her life 
burdensome, whilst she was utterly ¥dthout means of redress 
or retaliation. 

Those years had not, of course, increased her beauty, though 
they had increased her worldly wealth owing to the death of 
relations, and a knowledge of this had undoubtedly induced 
Renaud to constantly urge her to marry him ; but, with strange 
inconsistency, he tyrannized over her as the only means he had 
of resenting the disappointment her repeated refusals caused 
him, and this meanness served to turn any love she might 
ever have possessed for him into positive dislike, if not into 
hatred. 

She was aware, too, for her mirror told her — how could it 
do otherwise? — that the years had most unmistakably left 
their stamp upon her. The freshness of youth had faded, and 
the plainness of her face had become more accentuated. So 
that she quite made up her mind that her life must be lonely, 
for even the boy she had loved was passing into manhood, and 
so into a new sphere, which would necessarily separate her 
from him. 

It was the consideration and ever-present knowledge of 
these facts which enabled her to receive Basile's confession 



•BE SILENT, CAUTIOUS, WATCHFUL* 105 

with complacency, if not with positive pleasure. To become 
his wife would certainly involve the forfeiture of her position, 
as a mesalliance of that kind would not find favour with Queen 
Mary or her Court But the thought naturally suggested 
itself to Adrienne, Why should she sacrifice substance for 
shadow P She had ample means. She was free to do as she 
liked ; and if she chose to make a descent in the social scale 
in order to acquire the happiness which in the higher sphere 
she could never hope to gain, that was an affair in which she 
had a right to demand untranunelled action. 

' Art thou sincere ?' she had said to Basile when she could 
trust herself to speak, after his confession. 

' Sincere !' he exclaimed. ' Ah, Mademoiselle Adrienne, if 
sincerity is to feel that for thee I could die at thy feet, an it 
would benefit thee, then in faith am I sincere.' 

' And how long hast thou had this feeling ?' she asked. 

' For many years,' he said. 

' And why hast thou remained so long silent y 

' Because thou hast been so far removed from me ; and 
when I have been tempted to go out towards thee, my heart 
has failed me, failed me lest thou shouldst spurn me, and I 
felt it were better to love in silence, better to yearn with hope 
in my heart, than to end suspense by certainty and have my 
heart broken.' 

' Tell me,' she said, as new light began to dawn u|)on her — 
'tell me, Basile, hadst thou tnis admiration for me before 
Renaud came to the Court in France ^ 

'Ay, by all that's holy.' 

'And thou wert aware that he was paying attention 
to me ?* 

'Yes.' 

' How didst thou know that ?* she asked quickly. 

' By watching thy every movement and his. Jealousy hath 
a hundred eyes, and interprets signs that others see not.' 

' Well,' she said, as he paused, ' thou hast not told me aU.' 

' What else can I tell ?* 

' Nay, Basile, I am not the keeper of thy thoughts ; and yet 
I dare be sworn thou hast lefl something unsaid.' 

In speaking thus she was but probing Iiim, for she suspected 
that he it was who had given her the mysterious warning not 
to marry Renaud. 

' I have led something unsaid,' he answered. ' I knew 



106 BASILE THE JESTER 

Renaud to be an impostor. I knew that he was aiming to 
possess thee. That in itself was enough for me to hate him. 
But once he struck me, and then I vowed to myself that I would 
thwart him at every turn. The night that he asked thee to 
become his wife I heard him, for I had dogged his footsteps, 
and stood in the room when he passed through it. I heard 
thy answer to him, and, fearful that thou wouldst accept him, 
I placed in thy chamber a dagger with a warning attached.' 

* Ah ! I thought so,' exclaimed Adrienne. 

' Dost thou hate me for it Y he asked pleadingly. 

' No ; thou didst me a service. But thou hast said that 
Renaud is an impostor. What dost thou mean by that }* 

' The time is not ripe yet when I may tell thee ; but tell 
thee I will At no distant day.' 

' And wherefore not now ?' 

' It cannot be, it cannot be ; my own safety would be perilled,' 
be murmured. 

' An that be so I will not press thee,' she answered S3rm- 
pathetically. Then there was silence between them for 
some minutes, until he broke it by saying : 

' Dost thou detest me for what I have said and done ?* 

'No.' 

' And thou wilt give me hope Y he cried eagerly, encouraged 
by her words. 

' Be silent, cautious, watchful,' she said, almost solemnly ; 
' and then thou needst not despair. But remember neither by 
word nor sign must thou display thy feeling for me to others.' 

' I will not, I will not !' he cried, thrilled to delight by her 
words, and the next moment he had seized her hand and 
pressed it to his lips. She gently withdrew it, and, murmuring 
' Adieu,' hurried away. 

CHAPTER XIX. 

ho! for LILIAN. 

Anthony Bomc£ster was a mercer in the High Street, 
Edinburgh. He was reputed to Le the wealthiest, or at 
any rate one of the wealthiest citizens in Edinburgh. He 
did not by any means, however, live in accordance with this 
reputation, for his habits were sordid, his mode of life squalid, 
his nature miserly. Anthony had been a widower for many 



HO! FOR LILIAN 107 

yean ; and when his wife died he took, as his housekeeper^ his 
own sister, Julia Bomeester, n hard-featured, sour-grained, 
unhappy-looking woman, who always carried a Bible under 
her arm, and ceaselessly talked of the eternal damnation of 
all men. 

Anthony Bomcester was a big, raw-boned, broad-chested, 
slouching man, with long arms that swung like pendulums ; 
with big hands and great knuckle-joints, the spaces between 
the knuckles covered with fibrous hair. His feet were 
broad and spreading, the general build of his body angular 
and unwieldy. His head was large and matted over with 
iron-gray hair of coarse texture. His face was knotted and 
gnarled, with a sour, hard expression. His eyes were gray, 
deep-set, and overhung with coarse bushy brows. His nose 
and mouth were large ; and a long reddish beard, turning gray, 
completes the portrait of as objectionable a looking man as 
one could imagine. His costume was usually as severe as 
himself — plain leather shoes with steel buckles, sombre gray 
hose with trunks, and a black velvet jacket with cloak of the 
same hue. 

Anthony was a conspicuous figure ; nearly everyone in the 
town knew him ; and by a certain force of character he had 
made himself a prominent actor in that stirring era. When 
the uncompromising and merciless reformer, John Knox, arrived 
from Geneva, Bomcester became one of his most fanatical 
followers, and avowed himself the deadly enemy of ever}'one 
professing Catholicism. To the Queen he had displayed 
the utmost aversion, and had been in the habit of applying 
such strong language to her and the Court, and of openly 
uttering threats of so dastardly a nature, that he had been 
cited for high treason, but the influence of Knox and his party 
had prevented his being brought to trial. 

It was strange that such a man should have been the father 
of a child who was the exact antipodes of himself and char- 
acter. Yet such was the case ; but Lilian took afler her 
mother, who had been equally remarkable for her beauty and 
a sweet disposition. Rumour said that she had gone to an 
early grave owing to the austerity and severe regime of her 
flinty husband. Lilian , who was about eighteen years of age, 
was of that ty|>e of beauty sufliciently rare to render her con- 
spicuous. She was dark, with white teeth, a clear, transparent 
complexion, and dark blue eyes. Her face and figure were 



108 BASILE THE JESTER 

classical in their mould, and her carriage was grace itself 
Many indeed were the love-sfghs drawn for, and many the 
longing glances that were directed towards, the old mercer s 
handsome daughter. Youths quarrelled and went mad about 
her, and older men vowed that Heaven had never before made 
so beautiful a woman. She had been brought up partly by her 
aunt, whose sourness of disposition had never been able to 
affect in the slightest degree the sweetness of Lilian. The girl 
was a dutiful and obedient daughter, and she possessed con- 
siderable influence over her father at times ; but it is doubtful 
whether the sombreness with which she was surrounded, and 
the rigid ascetic mode of living that was imposed upon her, 
did not render her position irksome and unbearable. Both 
her father and her ogress-like aunt watched her with keenly 
jealous eyes, and she was allowed no liberty of action, and 
scarcely freedom of thought. At all events, they tried to warp 
her judgment and mould her mind to their own gloomy views; 
but so far they had not succeeded in changing the innate 
goodness of her heart Possessed of rare intelligence and a 
discriminating judgment, she did not readily yield to influences 
that were directed against her charitably-disposed feelings. 
She had embraced the new doctrines ; but, unlike her father, 
she did not consider that those people who remained stanch 
to the ancient faith were fiends incarnate. 

A year before the time we are now writing about, Lilian 
became acquainted with Francois, the supposed son of Renaud, 
and it came about in this way : John Knox had been com- 
manded on two or three occasions to Holyrood by the Queen, 
and it chanced that on one of these occasions he had come in 
contact with Renaud, who, for motives that could scarcely have 
been other than those of self-interest, showed some inclina- 
tion to become a disciple of the Reformer. Knox, thinking 
that Renaud might be useful, introduced him to Bomcester, 
and Renaud speedily saw that, if he could only bring about a 
match between the beautiful Lilian and Francois, he himself 
might get some of the riches which report said Lilian would 
ultimately possess. Full of this idea, he set himself to work 
with cunning intrigue, in the art of which he had shown 
himself an adept. He succeeded in bringing Fran9ois and 
Lilian together, feeling sure that each other's youth and each 
other's beauty would do the rest, 

Bomcester, with that perception which distinguished him. 



MO! FOR LILIAN !03 

Saw instantly how be might advance the interests of his own 
fanatical party by using Fran9ois as an instrument Fran9ois 
was youthful, impressionable, and capable of being easily led 
by so beautiful a maiden as Lilian. When the connection 
first began, Bomcester had no serimis intention of allowing his 
daughter CO become engaged to Francois. His idea was 
Biroply to use Lilian as a means of causing the youth to become 
&lse to his allegiance to the Queen, and to use him as a spy. 

ft was a discreditable motive this, but Bomcester did not 
think so. His fanaticism blinded him, and he believed that 
he was perfectly Justified in resorting to any means to over- 
come those whose creed differed from his own. 

As was only natural, however, the boy and girl were not 
long before they were over bead and ears in love with each 
other. Lilian's father was not altogether displeased with this, 
for he considered that he was only the more certain to secure 
Fran^ob to his own followers. In the madness of his love the 
boy would be willing to lend himself to anything, to become 
an easy and pliable tool in the hands of his designing and 
crafty teacher. And herein Bomcester was not altogether 
wrong, for Francois was young and inexperienced ; he loved 
Lilian ; she encouraged hb love, that is, she loved him in 
return, although she knew that her father would under no 
circumstances ssjiction her wedding him until he had become 
an uncompromising and unswerving convert to the new reli- 
gioiL Francois loved his Queen as a subject, dutiful and 
loyal, may love his ruler. But be loved Lilian as a man may 
love a beautiful woman, and the passion of such a liive has 
from time immemorial been strong enough to cause men to 
renounce their sovereign, betray their country, and prove 
traitorous even to their dearest friends. The youth himself 
knew perfectly well that he must choose one of two courses : 
either to follow in the path of duty aiHl loyalty to her Mnjestv, 
or, becoming a traitor, bask in the smiles of the favour of 
Lilian. Which should it be? 

Af^r tbat interview with the Queen he decided for her, as 
was shown by his destroying the beautiful love-gifl of the 
girdle and dagger ; but, then, subsequently, Renaud's influence 
prevailed, and so his resolutions were flung to the winds, and 
ia bis heart he cried, ' Ho I Cor LUian,' 



no BASILE THE JESTER 



CHAPTER XX. 



love's power 



It is a blustery night, and the wind sweeping down from the 
hills shrieks through the narrow streets of Edinburgh, and 
howls through the W3mds and courts as if it were a ravening 
beast seeking for prey. Overhead the flying scud tears along, 
now in rolling masses, and anon in wide-spreading fields or in 
ragged streamers. And through the rents and rifts peers a 
young moon, that calls into being strange shadows that swirl 
and toss about the town like things of life. Sometimes the 
streets are plunged in total darkness, and at others they are 
filled with cold, weird light, that brings into picturesque relief 
the old houses, with their quaint gables, their hanging eaves, 
and their projecting windows. 

Leaving the Palace of Holyrood stealthily, a man enveloped 
in a large cloak, with his face hidden by a slouching hat, steals 
through the private garden, and avoiding the sentries posted 
at the various entrances, he makes his way familiarly through 
the shrubbery, until he reaches the boundary wall. There he 
pauses and listens. He hears nothing, however, but the 
screeching wind as it shakes the trees into angry protest; and 
the tramp of the guard, mingled with the rattle of steel 
corselets, as the men move about over their allotted space. 

The cloaked man presently climbs the wall, aided by a log 
of wood placed endways, and which was evidently there for 
the purpose. He gains the top of the wall, listens again ; 
then, taking advantage of a hdwling gust and temporary dark- 
ness, caused by masses of clouds sweeping over the face of the 
moon, he drops lightly down on the other side, and speeds 
away as if he himself were a shadow. With evident familiarity 
he hurries up the steep and tortuous street, until nearly oppo- 
site the cross in the High Street There he turns down a 
wynd that is steeped in inky darkness, but he gropes along by 
the wall until he reaches a doorway at the foot of a wooden 
stair. Up this he goes, gains a gallery overhanging a yard, 
and then knocks on a ponderous door, first with two sharp 
raps, then one rap, followed after a pause by two sharp raps 
again. It is lieyond doubt a prearranged signal. A small barred 
wicket in the centre of the door slides back, but no light 
reveals anjrthing, though a gruff voice says : 



LOVES POWER 111 

* A faithful sheepu' 

The man answers : 

' Aj, shepherd, faithful unto death.' 

These are watchwords. The wicket is closed instantly. 
Then there is a rattling of bolts and chains, and the ponilerous 
door swings on its massive hinges. 

'Thou art eagerly expected,' the voice says. 

The num enters, and the door is closed and barred again. 
He mounts a flight of stone stairs, preceded by the owner of 
the voice, who opens a door, and then the two enter a small 
Ughted chamber. The owner of the voice is a faithful man- 
servant. The cloaked man is Francois. The house is the 
abode of Bomcester the mercer. 

Francis, yielding to his supposed father's persuasion, and 
forgetting his pledge of fidelity made to the Queen, has come 
thus secretly and mysteriously to visit Lilian. He and the 
servant pass through this outer room, which is wainscoted and 
haa'a panelled ceihng. They enter in at a doorway, cross a 
narrow corridor, and then the servant draws aside a heavy 
curtain, revealing a welt-lighted chamber. FrBn9ois enters, 
casts off his hat and cloak, and in another moment has clasped 
in his arms Lilian, who has been anxiously awaiting his 



As they stood thus embracing each other — she beautiful as 
a dream, he handsome as a Greek statue — they presented a 
picture that might have done to typify the grandeur and grace 
of the human form and the ardour of human love. 

'Ah, Francois, how happy I am when thou art here!' sighed 
the beautiful girl, as she nestled to him, and allowed his lips 
to press hers. 

And these words, together with the pressure of her soft 
arms and the warmth of her lips, begetting in him a rapturous 
passion, that was like a delightful madness, so to speak, made 
nim forget everything — Queen, country, honour, pledges, 
everything save her. 

'And I — I am in an ecstasy of bliss,' he cried, folding her 
■till closer to him. ' But how does thy father and thy aunt i' 

'They are well,' she answered ; 'but my father is nightly 
engaged, and at this moment is closely closeted with strange 
men, and tnuch I fear me that it means mischief, and that a 
conspiracy it being hatched. But he allows me to learn but 



112 BASILE THE JESTER 

little^ for he says that a woman knows not how to hold her 
tongue. Is not that a wrong to mj sex, dear Francois ?' 

' Ay, by the Mass ' 

'Hush!' she said in alarm, as she placed her white hand 
over his mouth. 'Thou must not swear by the Mass here. 
An my father or my aunt heard thee, they would rail at thee 
as if thou wert in league ¥dth Satan himself.' 

' I forgot myself, sweet love,' he replied ; ' but truly thy 
father does thee wrong when he says thou art not to be 
trusted. An I had the knowledge of them, I would trust thee 
with all the secrets of the State.' 

' Dear heart!' she sighed in admiration. ' Love blinds thee. 
But be ever blind thus. See not my faults, only my virtues.' 

' Faults I' he exclaimed in enthusiasm. ' Thou hast none. 
Thou art as perfect as a flawless jewel, as pure as an angel.' 

' Silly youth ! knowest thou not that the devil hath angels, 
and they are not pure,' said a harsh grating voice, and, turning 
round in confusion, he beheld the crabbed, sour face of Aunt 
Julia, as she stood in the doorway. 

' Greetings to thee and my dutiful service, lady,* answered 
Fran9ois, as, releasing his hold of Lilian, he bowed low. 

'The Lord give thee light and understanding,' said Aunt 
Julia, with a melancholy sigh. ' But come in, thou silly love- 
sick swain, for I would fain endeavour to sow good seed, and 
bring thee into the light of blessed truth.* 

Fran9ois and Lilian followed Aunt Julia, although they 
would have much preferred to have been left alone. They 
went into a small, snug room, where a wood fire blazed upon 
the hearth. Then Aunt Julia seated herself in a tall, straight- 
back chair, and folding her Bible to her scraggy breast, she 
sighed, and said : ' The anger of the Lord goeth out upon the 
Papists, and thou, young man, art one of them. But I would 
pluck thee even as a brand from the burning, and save thee 
from everlasting torment' 

'An I am able to call this dear girl my wife, then shall I 
know everlasting bliss,' responded Francois, as he gazetl with 
admiration into his loved one's eyes, while she, hanging her 
head in maiden modesty, blushed scarlet. 

'Cease thy irreverence,' cried Aunt Julia. 'There is no 
bliss on this earth. It is a wicked world — a world of groanings 
and darkness and the devil. Thou art tolerated in this 
house, young man^ because we hope that that silly wench may 



LOVES POWER lis 

be the humble instrument of bringing thee into the fold of 
the chosen. We are but servants of the Lord, whose name 
be praised.' 

' My world is here, and I wish for no other,' Pran9ois sighed, 
turning to Lilian. 

'Out upon thee for a silly loon !' cried Aunt Julia, hugging 
her Bible still closer. ' Your eyes are sealed to the light. 
LilisD will be but as a thom in thy side. Alas ! there is no 
joy in this vale of tears.' 

' For some people,' added Fran^b roguishly, at the same 
time wishing that this veiy sour old woman would betake her- 
self off, and do her moaning and groaning in the privacy of 
her own chamber. 

' There is joy for none, siirah,* cried the good dame sharply. 
' When thou host come to years of wisdom, as I have done, 
thou wilt then know what a hollow mockery is life.' 

' Ay, madame ; but till then there is a world of happiness to 
be enjoyed,' said Francois. 

' Poor fool !' exclaimed Aunt Julia, with an expression of 
contemptuous pity on her shrivelled face, and turning her 
sunken, lack-lustre eyes cei ling wards ; 'thy youth alone can 
excuse thy silly prattle. There is no happiness here, but woe, 
woe, woe. Thou shouldst cover thy body with sackcloth and 
thy head with ashes, and pray for the happiness that is to come.' 

' I pray without the sackcloth and ashes, and my happiness 
is at hand,' answered Francois, as he passed hisarm significantly 
round Lilian's waist. 

' Irreverent scoffer and shameless boy I' snapped Aunt Julia 
indignantly. 'Sit farther away from that silly wench ; and 
mark me well, the Lord will punish thee for thy wilful blind- 
ness. Thou art in a parlous state, and night nor day I shall 
know no rest until I have purged thee of thy Papistical foul- 
ness, and bathed thee in the living waters of everlasting truth. 
I tell thee, boy, this carnal world is a world of the devil, and 
he holds thee at this moment in his clutches. The Lord 
willing, I will rescue thee.' 

'Whom wouldst thou rescue,8ister?' asked Bumcester sternly, 
as he entered at this moment, much to the young couple's 
relief, who both rose quickly, and stood a little apart from 
each other. 

' That poor Papist, who gropetb along in the darkness to 
tbe de*Ut aoBwerad Auot Jnli*. 



114 BASILE THE JESTER 

* I ^ve thee greeting, young man/ said Bomeester, fixing 
his cold, steel-like eyes on Fran^»ois, ' Tliou shalt be rescued. 
Lilian there shall bring thee into the light. But thou wilt 
have to prove thyself worthy of her, and give evidence that 
thou art willing to renounce the damnable doctrines which 
have been instilled into thee. The chance of doing that shall 
be afforded thee this ver}* night Come with me, and 1 will 
put thy faithfulness to the test' 

Ldlian turned pale at these words. She knew that at that 
very moment and under that very roof some plot was being 
hatched. Of the nature of the plot she had no knowledge, 
but she could make a shrewd guess that it was des|)erate and 
directed against the Queen. She had seen enough to be 
aware of the bitter hatred that her father and his followers 
cherished against her Majesty ; she had also observed that 
during the hist few days strange men had come in a mysterious 
manner to the house, and taken their departure in an equally 
mysterious way. Therefore she concluded at once that her 
father was entering into some desi)erate enterprise, into which 
he was wishful to lead her lover. These thoughts blanched 
her cheeks, and she shuddered on Francis's account And had 
she dared to have done so she would have raised a protesting 
voice, and have dissuadefl him from going. But she knew per- 
fectly well that she could never hope to become his wife, if he 
did not comply with her father's wishes. She turned towards her 
father, and then dropping her eyes before his stem gaze, said : 

* Francois, my father awaits thee, (io with him.* And, 
lowering her voice to a whisper so that her wonls reached his 
ear only, she murmured : ' Be watchful and cautious, and peril 
not thyself for my sake.' 

' For thy sake 1 go,* he answered quickly ; and turning 
towards Bomeester, said : ' 1 am at your service, sir. Put me 
to any test you will.' 

Without another word Bomeester quickly left the room, 
and Fran9ois followed hinL 

CHAPTER XXL 

THE CONSPIRATORS. 

BoMCESTER led the way along a gloomy corridor that was 
lighted only by a small oil-lamp suspended from the ceiling. 



THE CONSPIRATORS 115 

When he reached the end of this corridor he stopped, and, 
laying his heavy hand on the youth's shoulder, said in his 
customary solemn tones : 

' Boy, thou lovest my daughter ?' 

' Passionately, sir/ 

' And thou hast a wish to possess her ?* 

' Before aught else in the world.' 

' You speak well, for she is a prize well worth the winning. 
I have wealth, and that wealth will be hers an she marries 
the man I choose for her. That she is bound to do, or 
marry not at all ; for an she were to wed against my wish, 1 
would slay her. But she loves thee, boy.' 

' My heart tells me so, and 1 rejoice,' said Francois. 

'Ay, but what wilt thou do to win her?' demanded Bomcester 
in deep, sepulchral tones. 

' What you will, an 1 sully not my honour.' 

'Thy honour can suffer not in embracing the cause for 
which we, as the apostles of truth, are struggling.' 

Understanding the meaning of this, Francois remarked : 

' 1 was brought up as a l^ipist, but ' 

' Therefore art thou an unregenerated child of Satan,' said 
Bomcester quickly, and interrupting him. 

' I was about to say,' Francois continued, ' that, though I 
have been educated in the old faith, for Lilian's sake I am 
willing to embrace the new.' 

' Thou findest thy way into my heart by that determination,' 
answered Bomcester, shifting his hand from the youth's 
shoulder to his head, which he bent back a little so that he 
should the better see his face. 'When thou hast ratified 
that, the prize will be half won. But more will be required 
of thee.' 

' What else would you have, sir ?' asked Francois in 
surprise. 

' Much,' answered the fanatic. ' We are the Lord's elect, 
and it is our duty to remove and beat down in His name all 
those who refuse to spread the light and to come into the fold.' 

' You s|>eak in riddles,' exclaimed Francois, shrinking back 
a little as he gathered something of Bomcester's meaning. 

' Thou art dull,' the other returned. ' We would make thee 
an instrument of vengeance against those who, by their sin 
and wickedness, are bringing down the wrath of the I^ird on 
the nation. Thou art in the Court| and thou knowest what a 



116 BASILE THE JESTER 

sink of iniquity it is. We would cleanse it, and thou shalt 
help us.' 

Indignation stirred Francois, and his high spirit chafed as 
he said : 

' If you mean that I should become a spy and a traitor, 
tempt me no further, for I shall scorn you.' 

Bomcester drew up his gaunt form to its full height, and, 
raising his arm with one finger pointing upward, he said with 
smothered vrrath : 

' Fool ! dost thou not know that in serving the Lord, and 
working for His cause, thou canst not be a traitor.^ His 
enemies shall be scattered, even as the wind scattereth the 
ashes of a fire on a hUl-top. But go thy ways, and think no 
more of Lilian.' 

Fran9ois's heart almost stood still at this terrible command, 
which he knew only too well the rigid fanatic would adhere 
to. He saw that he must choose between Lilian and loyalty, 
and he felt that he could not give up Lilian, whatever the 
sacrifice were that he was called upon to make ; and so, with 
great earnestness, he exclaimed : 

' Sir, for Lilian's sake I will do your bidding blindly.' 

The hard, knotted face of the fanatic lighted up with a look 
of triumph as he saw how by means of his beautiful daughter 
he could make this boy an instrument of destruction. He 
looked at Fran9ois for some moments, then he said with an air 
of mystery : 

' Thou hast saved thyself, and will yet win Lilian. Come.' 

He tapped twice on a door at the end of the passage. 
There was the noise of a grating lock, the door was opened, 
and, following his guide, Fran9ois crossed the threshold, and 
found himself in a large room, which was so dimly lighted 
that all the youth could make out was that round a large 
table were seated several men. 

As Bomcester and Fran9ois entered, a dead silence reigned. 
Not a word was spoken until the door had been closed behind 
them and locked. Then suddenly someone extinguished the 
light and all was darkness, at the same time a deep voice said, 
in hollow tones : 

'Thou hast brought him.' 

' Ay,' answered Bomcester ; ' and he is true.' 

Francois felt uneasy. Not that he had any actual fear, for 
h^ did not imagine fox a mom^t that he had be^ brought 



THE CONSPIRATORS 117 

there to be injured. But he knew perfectly well that he was 
to be made a party in some conspiracy, and his reward was to 
be Lilian. Presently the deep voice spoke again : 

' Boy/ it said, ' thou art a favourite page to the Queen's 
Majesty/ 

' Ay, sir, an so it please you,' Fran9ois answered proudly, 
and feeling sure that in the speaker, although the voice was 
evidently disguised, he recognised the Queen's husband. Lord 
Dam ley. 

' Thy position, therefore,' the voice continued, ' enables thee 
to know something of her Majesty's private life ^ 

' Very little,' Fran9ois answered cautiously. 

' Thou art acquainted with one David Rizzio f 

* I am so acquainted.' 

' What knowest thou of him Y 

' Nothing.' 

' Have a care,' cried the voice, with rising inflection in its tone. 

' I repeat, I know nothing,' said Francois boldly. 

' And I repeat, have a care,' answered the voice. 

' An thou wouldst win Lilian for thy bride, answer truth- 
fully whatsoever may be asked of thee,' said Bomcester, who 
was standing at his side. 

' Thy life is at stake,' said the voice ; ' for shouldst thou not 
assent to what will be demanded of thee now, thou wilt 
never leave this room alive. A cord is ready at a given signal 
to be twisted about thy throat, shouldst thou refuse to serve us.' 

Even at this dreadful threat, which he could not doubt 
would be put into execution by these desperate men, Francois 
did not wince. In the darkness he seemed to see Lilian's 
beautiful face, and he grew desperate himself, and reckless. 

' Ask me what you will, sir,' he said, ' and I will answer you 
truthfully, acconling to my knowledge.' 

'That is well,' said the voice, 'and thou wilt gain the 
mercer's daughter. And now say, hast thou seen aught 
passing between her Majesty and David Rizzio that would 
lead thee to sup)x>se he was her Majesty's lover ?' 

* Nothing,' he answered. 

' Beware,' said the voice threateningly. 

' I speak but the truth,' Francis exclaimed with great 
decision. 

' But thou knowest that Rizzio is a great favourite with the 
Queen's Majesty/ 



118 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Yes, so much do I know.' 

' And that he is often alone with the Queen in her Majesty's 
cabinet ?' 

' Ay, sir ; I have knowledge that her Majesty does so 
honour him.' 

'That is enough for our purpose/ the voice continued. 
' And now listen, and mark well what is said to thee. We 
are bound by an oath to inflict summary vengeance on the 
enemies of the Lord, and this Rizzio, having sullied the 
honour of thy master. Lord Damley, we have vowed that he 
shall die. It is thy duty to attend the Queen's Majesty when 
she sups with her ladies and Rizzio in her cabinet' 

' It is, an it please you, sir,' Francois said, thrilling a little 
now with excitement, as he realized that he was being en- 
tangled against his wilL 

' Good. Then we exact this duty from thee. Her Majesty's 
cabinet communicates by means of a small door with a secret 
staircase. On Saturday night next thou wilt see that that 
door is left unlocked. Dost understand }* 

' Perfectly well,* the poor youth answered, feeling some- 
what relieved, for he fully expected that he himself was to 
slay Rizzio. 

' Fail not, then,' said the voice, ' an thou wouldst preserve 
thy life and gain Lilian Bomcester for thy bride. Thou 
mayst depart now, but remember that shouldst thou breathe 
aught of this to living soul no power on earth will save thee.' 

Francois felt his arm grasped by Bomcester. The key was 
turned in the lock once more, the door was opened, and he was 
led out» without having seen even for a brief instant the faces 
of any of the men present. 

CHAPTER XXIL 

A SURPRISE. 

Bomcester made no remark until he got to the door of the 
outer chamber, then he stopped suddenly, and said with that 
air of mystery he seemed so fond of adopting : 

'Thy future depends upon thy silence as to to-night's 
work. Serve the Lord, and He will give thee a rich reward.' 

He opened the door and went in, followed by Francois. 
Aunt Julia was sitting in the tall-backed chair, with her Bible 



A SURPRISE 119 

■till clasped to her bony bosom, while Lilian was busy broider- 
ing B coif. She rose as the two men entered, and her Tace 
beamed with an expression of glndness at her lover's return ; 
while Aunt Julia started up with a grunt, and mumbled in a 
sleepy way : 

' Slay the enemies of the reformed faith be confounded and 
scattered.' Then, recognising her brother and Fran9ois, she 
exclaimed : ' The Lord preserve as all ! Methought the 
Papists were seeking to encompass us about with their 
machinations.' 

' Thy head is wandering, sister. Thou art getting old and 
foolish.' 

Aunt Julia sprang to her feet with an alacrity that was 
astonishing, and, twisting her vinegar visage into a striking 
resemblance to a gargoyle, she exclaimed ; 

'Out upon thee, brother, for a mannerless loon! Thou 
knowest well that thou hadst thy first trunk hose long before 
our blessed mother ushered me into this wicked world.' 

' Peace, sister!' said her brother angrily. 'Thy tongue were 
better employed in mumbling thy prayers. Get thee to thy 
chamber.' 

She tucked her Bible under her arm, folded her bony 
hands together, and, tossing her peaked head indignantly, 
answered : 

'It is a grievous offence in the eyes of the Lord for a 
brother to be disrespectful to his young sister. I am a lone 

' Get thee to thy chamber,' cried Anthony savagely. 

' Come, child,' she said to Lilian, ' thy father Is mad. Thou 
shalt lead me to my chamlier, for I vow that my nerves are 
all unstrung. Give me thy arm, wench. Hast got thy scent 
casket i Let me have it that [ may sniff it, for I have a sudden 
faintness.' 

Lilian hwl approached her aunt with the intention of 
obeying her command, when her father interposed, and 
thundered out, as he stamped his foot with rage ; 

'Get thee to thy chamber, Julia, and go alone, for Lilian 
remains here.' 

Aunt Julia fairly jumpetl with fright. 

' Oh !' ahe cried, ' that I should have lived to be thus treated 
by my mother's son. Satan has surely entered into thee. 
Oat him out, brother, an thou wouldst be saved.' 



120 BASILE THE JESTER 

Her speech was cut short by Anthony, who, seizing her 
angular shoulders, pushed her through the doorway and out 
of the room. 

Lilian rather enjoyed the scene, and yet she wondered what 
it all meant It was no unusual thing for her father to rave 
at his sister, but what puzzled her was that, while her aunt 
had been sent to bed, she had been ortlered to remain, for it 
was seldom she was allowed to be separated from Aunt Julia, 
who seemed appointe<l to fulfil the part of a watchful ogress. 
But her surprise and wonderment were immeasurably increased 
when Anthony pulled from his fob his ponderous watch, and 
said: 

' It lacks but a quarter to eleven of the night Thou mayst 
employ that quarter in billing and cooing. But hearken, 
young sir : see that thou dost not blister my daughter's lips, 
and — and be cautious.' 

Without another word he left the room, leaving the young 
people almost dumfounded with astonishment, yet quite dis- 
posed to take advantage of their unexpected good fortune, for 
they were speedily locked in each other's arms. 

Bomcester had not acted as he had done without some 
ulterior motive. He knew something of human nature, and 
was therefore well aware that to encourage Francois's passion 
was to make him a still more pliable tool, and that passion 
could not be better encouraged than by leaving him and the 
girl alone. But the cunning and crafty Anthony still kept 
an eye on them, for in the corridor was a recess, and in the 
wall of this recess was a small square hole provided for pur- 
poses of ventilation. That hole commanded a full view of the 
room, and there the fanatic planted himself. 

' This is in very truth bliss,' exclaimed Francois rapturously, 
as he clas{>ed Lilian to his breast, and pressed hot kisses on 
her upturned face. 

'Thou must indeed have found thy way to my father's 
heart !' responded the girl, as she laid her head against his 
shoulders and ti^ined her arms about his neck. 'But tell me, 
sweet love, what has passed between thee and him? Right 
well 1 know that something mysterious is going on. Hast 
thou been taken into the secret ? Tell me, love — tell me what 
it is, for I am dying to know !' 

' Not now, dear life,' he answered. 

'Not now !' she cried, raising her head and looking at him 



A SURPRISE ISl 

fn surprise. ' Wherefore not now ? Hast thou so little faith 
in me, that thou c&nst not trust me with thy aDatrs P An it be 
BO, then am I unworthy to mate with thee.' 

'Nay, beloved Lilian, speak not like that,' he exctaiiueil 
anxiously, and drawing her closer again. 'There shall be no 
secrets between us save in this one matter, in which for the 
present my lips are sealed.' 

' Now, then, tbou dost affright me,' she cried, starting back, 
'and my fears tell me that my father is engaged jn some 
desperate venture. He has taken thee into his con6dence, 
and it may be thy honour, thy safety, thy very life, are at 
stake. Oh, tell me, sweetheart, what it is, that I may advise 
thee.' 

Francois was very uneasy. That his honour and safety were 
perilled he knew perfectly well, and yet he hesitated to tell 
Lilian, for he could hardly expect that she would lend herself 
to a plot in which treachery and murder were to form the 
chief features. If she were made acquainted with the facts, 
her sweet nature would revolt against the conspiracy, and 
some indiscretion on her part might betray all. He felt that 
he was on the horns of a dilemma. Fur a moment he was 
strongly tempted to tell her all, having first exacted from hec 
• solemn promise of secrecy. But he checked himself, and 
fortunately so, as was subsequently proved, 

' Lilian,' he exclaimed with warmth, ' thou knowest well 
that I worship thee, that I love the very ground upon which 
thy feet press, and for thy dear sake there is nothing I would 
nut dare, liut I pray thee, love, in this case urge me nut to 
betray the confidence tliat hss been placed in me. The times 
are dangerous, and even the walls have ears, it is therefore 
necessary that I should be cautious, or my life would pay the 
penalty.' 

Lilian shuddered, for the earnestness with which her lover 
spoke convinced her that he had been drawn into a venture 
which she shrewdly guessed was directed against the Court, for 
she knew that her father in his burning fanaticism hated the 
Queen and all about her. 

'Welivein wicked and desperate times,' she sighed, 'and men 
are doing awful deeds against each other in the name of truth 
and religion. Keep thyself uncontaminatetl, and honest and 
just, and if it plea.'te Heaven that we are uniteil as man and 
wife, we will withdraw from these scenes of iutrigue and coo- 



122 BASILE THE JESTER 

spiracy, and endeavour to find a spot where we can live in 
peace and love, undisturbed by the passions of ambitious and 
wicked men.* 

' Heaven hasten the hour that makes thee mine,' cried 
Francois fervently. 'For the peace you speak of, we must 
strive with all our might, and swerve never an inch from the 
path of honest duty.' 

' Ah, lover of mine, how noble thou art !' Lilian murmured 
in admiration. 

' It is Sweet to hear thee say so,' he answered. 

'Francois,' she said, looking up into his face, 'dost thou 
truly love me }' 

' Love thee !' he exclaimed. ' Ay, by all that's sacred ; by 
all my hopes of heaven; by the memor}' of my sainted mother. 
I swear it' 

' Thou makest me so happy,' she sighed. 

' Thou hast faith in me }* he asked. 

' Unbounded,* she murmured. 

' And thy love is imperishable ?* 

' As imperishable as the stars.' 

' But wilt thou always love me ?* 

' Always.' 

' Through good and evil report Y 

'Through good and evil report,' she answered. 'But 
wherefore dost thou ])ly me with these questions ?* 

'To gratify myself,' he said. '1 know that thou dost love 
me, but it is sweet to hear thee repeat over and over again 
that I am dear in thy sight. I would be thy world.* 

'Thou art, and heaven, too,* she munnured. 'Thou art 
aware how dull and monotonous my life has been, and even 
rendered gloomy with the asceticism of my father and Aunt 
Julia. But when thou crossed my pith I saw light breaking, 
and when thou made me understand how sweet a thing it is to 
love, I said to myself, "It may be that with this man I shall 
go out into a bright and happy future." ' 

'Ay, and thou shalt, or may Heaven forget me!' cried 
Francois with passionate enthusiasm, as he kissed her many 
times. 

' I wonder often,' she said, ' if that sweet time is far 
distant.' 

' An it were in my power, it should begin to-morrow,' he 
answered. ' But I will urge thy father to let it be soon.' 



A SURPRISE IS3 

'I am afraid he will not consent to that, sweetheart, for he 
•ays we are too young yet" 

' But many as young as we become man and wife,' urged 
Francois. 

'True, but we are in my father's hands. I must obey his 
wishes. At times I am troubled with strange misgivings.' 

' Misgivings,' Francois echoed in alarm. 

' Ay, love ; but it may be that I vex myself with foolish and 
groundless feats.' 

'Mbgi 
noticed h 

' Alas t 1 scarcely know ; but I have had troubled dreams of 
late, and in my dreams thou hast always appeared as a 
vanishing phantom.' 

' Dreams are but the foolish fancies of a tricksy brain,' he 
said with a reassuring smile, and yet somehow in spite of him- 
self not feeling assured. Why, it would have been fm|KiN.sible 
for him to explain, except by the theory that he Iwul l>ecomc 
unconsciously infected with her nervous fears. 

'They may be so-— they may be so,' she mused. Then «be 
added piously : ' Let us pray to Heaven to guide us, let us be 
true and faithful to ourselves and each other, and then the 
future will bring us joy.' 

'Thou art indeed a precious treasure,' he answeretl, as he 
embraced her with all the passion of an ardent lover. 

' It is eleven of the clock,' growled Anthony BontrcHtrr, 
entering at this moment unperceived, so that the lovcrN Htnrti-d 
from each other in confusion. 

Francois understood that he was to go, and taking llic 
hands of Ljlian in both of his, he kihhed her and luuli' lirr 
good-night. 

'1 will give thee exit,' said Anthony, leailing the wny ti> 
the outer corridor, where he took from a [teg a honi lanlrrii, 
and held it above his bead, so as to throw the light furwNrd. 
When they reached the massive d(K»r, he |MUM:d with lil* 
hand on the great lock, and looking into Frmivdln's fiici-, »ii 
which he caused the light of the Innteni to fall, he wild : 
'Thou hast done well, boy, and Mved thyu-lf 1 hnv<- Ixrird 
all that has passed between thee and l.tliari. Ilndsl tli«u 
betrayed our secret to her, thou woiil<Kt have |H'ri»li<-d. Now 
thou sbalt have her for thy wife.' 

' When y the youth asked eagi-rly. 



12i BASILE THE JESTER 

' When thou hast proved thyself worthy of her/ 

With this equivocal answer the gloomy fanatic opened the 
door. 

' Good-night/ he mumbled ; ' thou knowest thy way. 
Stumble not upon the stair, and avoid night prowlers.' 

The great door was shut to with a clang, and Fran9ois found 
himself on the balcony with the chill night air blowing 
about him and making him shiver. 

CHAPTER XXIIL 

ON THE BRINK OF DANOEIL 

Fran<;oi8 pursued his way through the dark streets in a very 
reflective and meditative mood. The wind had gone down, 
and the sky had completely clouded over, while raindrops were 
beginning to fall. The streets were very deserted, for the 
hour was late, and all decent citizens were in their houses. 
Once Francois thought that he heard a footstep following 
him. He turned quickly round and saw, or fancied he saw, 
a figure disappear in a doorway. He did not venture back 
to prove or disprove his suspicions, for though he was as 
brave as a lion, he did not deem it prudent to thrust himself 
into unnecessary danger. He was, moreover, unarmed, and 
therefore would have had no chance against marauders bent 
on mischief. He consequently pulled his cloak about him, 
pressed his hat down, and hurried on as fast as he could, 
making a detour in order to avoid the patrol, for he was very 
anxious that there should be no evidence of his absence from 
the palace on this particular night. 

He felt that he had committed himself to a course which 
might either make or mar him, and which under any circum- 
stances w&s fraught with danger. He knew perfectly well 
that the utmost caution and discretion were needed ; and all 
his vigilance would be required, for plots and counterplots 
were the order of the day, and hardly anyone was safe from 
suspicion ; while those upon whom it fell were liable to be 
dealt with in a very summary fashion. 

To say that Fran9ois was altogether tranquil in his mind 
would be very far from the fact He was in reality greatly 
troubled with conflicting thoughts, and this notwithstanding 
that it seemed fairly certain that success would crown his 



ON THE BRINK OF DANGER 185 

wooing. But he had that night — against his will, it b true^ 
become one of a band of conspirators whose object was to slay 
Rixzio, the Italian secretary of her Majesty the Queen, and, as 
gossip said, her secret lover. FrBn^uis knew that the young 
and handsome Italian enjoyed many privileges at the Court, 
and was a great favourite with the Queen, for he had rendered 
her much service. It was, in fact, due to him that she had 
married Damley ; and he had also brought about an alliance 
between Scotland and Spain in order to counteract the pro- 
gress of the Reformation. He was a zealous Catholic, and 
had incurred the undying animosity of the Protestants. By 
his quick intelligence, his learning, and his far-seeing mind, 
he had succeeded in acquiring great power ; and being a good 
musician and singer, he spent much tune with the Queen, who 
was passionately fond of music, and had organized a band 
ander Rizxio's leadership, for her special amusement. With 
everyone else in the Court, however, he was at variance and 
greatly disliked. He was arrogant and presuioptuous, and in 
Eis dress and mode of Uving he tried to outrival the King, 
Lord Damley. 

Franvois had knowledge of all this, and personally had a 
dislike for Hizzio, who had treated him by no means kindly. 
But this dislike did not carry him to the length of wishing 
Rizzlo's death. On the contrary, had he been left to his own 
free will, he would have done much to have saved him : not for 
Rizzio's sake, but fur the Queen's sake, for Francois was 
strongly attached to her Majesty. He knew how much he 
owed to her, and he had always ex|>erienced the greatest 
kindnes.4 at her hands. Therefore he had good cause to be 
personally grateful. But now circumstances had come about 
which for the time placed him amongst her enemies. 

Love in bis case had proved stronger than gratitude. But 
in an ardecit and nimantic youth, such as he was, it eould 
hardly be other-wise. Lilian's beauty was enough to lure fur 
older and sterner men than he, and though he bad pronnsed 
after his interview with the Queen to give up Lilian, he had 
been led into breaking his pn>mise, and now was too far com- 
mitted to withdraw ; and tJiough he did not love bis Queen 
the less, he certainly loved Lilian the niore. 

Agitated with emotion that sprang from these varying 
thoughts, he pursued his way to the [talace nii'chanically. lie 
re, therefore, that for some time he had been 



126 BASILE THE JESTER 

followed. When he had nearly reached his destination he 
was suddenly seized, and the light from a lantern turned full 
upon his face, so that it was impossible for him to see who his 
assailants were. 

'That will do/ said a voice; 'we have convinced ourselves 
that it is Francois, the Queen's page. Let him go.' 

He was released as suddenly as he had been seized, and 
before he could recover from his surprise and alarm, the men 
hurried away into the darkness. This incident troubled him 
greatly, for he had been recognised, and he had no doubt 
that the men were some of the palace spies. Therefore his 
absence would be known, in all probability, to those from whom 
he was most anxious to keep it secret However, the mis- 
chief was done, and he must make the best of it ; but he was 
by no means in the happy frame of mind he had enjoyed a 
little while previously, when he was holding the beautiful 
Lilian to his breast. Making his way to the wall by which he 
had descended when he left some hours ago, he endeavoured 
to scale it, but found the feat to be utterly impossible with^ 
out aid. The wall was perfectly smooth, and afibrded no 
foot or hand hold, while the top was infinitely too high to be 
reached by springing up. With heav}' heart, therefore, he 
was compelled to abandon that mo<le of gaining his lodgings, 
and had to present himself at one of the gates, where he was 
forced to answer to the challenge of the sentries, as he passed by 
them, so that any attempt to conceal the fact that he had been 
absent that night would be fruitless. He was too shrewd not 
to see how evidence of his absence might place him in an 
awkward position. For though this night was one on which 
he had no duties to perform, and so was free to amuse him- 
self, yet after his promise to the Queen, and in the event of 
the dreadful deed which had been planned being carried out, 
his absence would bear a suspicious construction. 

But what was done couldn't be undone, and so, bidding the 
sentries a cheery good-night, he hurried to his quarters, and 
was soon locked in sleep. 



THE MURDER OF DAVID RIZZIO 127 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

THE MURDER OF DAVID RIZZIO. 

It was the ninth of March, and night had fallen upon the city 
of Edinburgh. It was a bitterly cold night, with gusty squalls 
that were charged with sleet and hail. Although it was not 
late, the streets were deserted, save by those who were com- 
pelled to be abroad, for the cold and the sleet were piercing. 
It seemed to be a fitting sort of night for conspiracy and for 
murder. But no one dreamed, save those who were in the 
secret, how desperate a deed was to be done before the morn- 
ing dawned. 

Led by Lord Ruthven, Lord Lindsay, and the Earl of 
Morton, two hundred armed men marched as stealthily as it 
was |x>ssible for men to march, and made their way to Holy- 
rood Palace, where they seized the entrance to the palace, 
disarmed the guanls, and occupied the courtyard. Lord 
Damley had sup{)ed early, in onler that he might be ready to 
receive them. 

In the meantime the unfortunate Queen, little recking how 
shamefully she had been betrayed, and how her favourite, 
Rizzio, was fatally menaced, was supping with him in her 
private cabinet together with the C ountess of Arg}'le and some 
members of her Majesty's household. It was a ple^tsant little 
chamber, well lighted with several lamps ; while the walls 
were hung with costly tajn'str)'. Franvois and another page 
were in attendance on her Majesty. On one side of the room 
was a secret door, screened by the ta|)estr)', and generally used 
by Rizzio. The dcwr was always locked; but on tliis'|>arti- 
cular night it was not so, for Fraii^'ois had previously Uiken 
care to uiil(H*k it in accnmlance with the |>art he had been 
forced to play in the dread conspiracy. 

It had cost him a great struggle to do this, and once or 
twice he had been tempted to fall at her Majesty's feet and 
confess all, or else secretly convey a warning to Rizzio to 
seek safety in flight. But he had resisted the temptation, 
for love proved stronger than either gratitude or duty, and 
the fear of losing Lilian kept him silent Neverthclt'ss, he 
was greatly agiUtted and confused. Every rustling of the 
tapestry, every blast of wind, startled him, so that, the 



128 BASILE THE JESTER 

Queen's attention being attracted by his unusual manner, she 
asked : 

' What aiK thee, Fran^>is ? thou art absent and strange to- 
night.* 

' It is nothing, your Majesty, an it please you.' 

* Nothing !' cried the Queen. * By my faith an that be 
nothing, it would be intere>ting to know what something is.* 

' An I know aught of such signs, your Majesty,' said Rizzio 
iKith a laugh, * I should say the poor calf is love-sick.' 

The blcHxl rushed into Francois's face at these words, and 
the Queen, remembering his confession about Lilian Bom- 
cester, fixed him with her eves, and said : 

' No, David. He had a touch of that fever, but I cured 
him, for he is youthful, and the disease had made no great in- 
roads. Eh ? Is that not so, boy ?* 

Francois felt ready to sink through the floor. He knew 
|)erfectly well what the Queen meant. Her meaning was 
that she had unlx>un(led faith in him, and never believed for 
an instant that he had bmken the pleilge he had made to her 
when she had allowed him to kiss her n>yal lips. Now for the 
first time he must be traitor to himself, and descend to tell 
her Majesty a falsehood. And so, bowing his head in shame 
and confu«*ion, he said : 

' It is as your Majesty says.' 

'And thy heart is still whole?" asked the Queen, with 
significance in her tone and eyeing him askance, for his manner 
caused her to doubt. 

' Quite whole,' he muttered. 

* Lucky youth/ sighed Hizzio. * Keep it whole, boy, an 
thou wouldst enjoy life.' 

Fran<^is bowed, but ventured on no reply ; he felt faint 
and sick, for he knew that the Queen's eyes were still upon 
him, and that she was doubting liim ; and he knew also that 
the man who had just sjwken so gaily to him was doomed to 
die a violent death that night. 

A few minutes later the secret door was suddenly opene<l, 
and Lonl Damley entered. The Queen started and turned 
pale at this unexpected appearance of her husband, but when 
he i)assed round to the back of her chair, she turned and 
embraced him affectionately, saying pleasantly : 

* Thou comest unheralded, my lord, and by secret ways.' 
' Ay, madame,' he answered. ' Am I not welcome .^ 



THE MURDER OF DAVID RIZZIO 129 

' In faith, thou art very welcome/ she answered. ' But thy 
unceremonious intrusion on the privacy of my friends neecU 
explanation, my lord.' 

' The explanation is there/ he answered, as once more the 
door opened, and there strode in a tall man, clad in complete 
armour, his visor up, and his face haggard and ghastly with 
disease. 

The Queen was amazed and frightened ; her own face 
turned ashen, for she guessed that this was an evil portent, 
and that she or her favourite was menaced. 

The man in armour was Lord Ruthven, and he was followed 
immediately by George Douglas, Faudonside, and Patrick 
Bellenden, who were armed with daggers and pistols. Con- 
sternation seized all present. Fran9ois crouched into a 
comer, and Rizzio, pale as ' Pale Death,' felt that his end had 
come, and he turned a piteous look upon the Queen. 

' Sir,' she said, addressing Ruthven in stem and imperious 
tones, ' by whose permission hast thou dared to come unbidden 
into our presence ?' 

'Let it please your Majesty,' said Ruthven firmly, 'that 
yonder man, David Rizzio, come forth of your privy chamber, 
where he hath been over-long/ 

' What offence hath he done ?' asked the poor Queen, with 
blanched and trembling lips. 

' He has made a great and heinous offence to your Majesty's 
honour,' answered Ruthven surlily, 'and also to the King 
your husband, as well as to the nobility and the common- 
wealth.' 

The Queen drew herself up indignantly, and, almost livid 
with rage, she exclaimed : 

' And by what right, my Lord Ruthven, dost thou dare to 
turn accuser thus in the privacy of our chamber ?' 

' By the right of a free citizen of this realm, madame.' 

' If thou or any other man hath any charge to bring against 
Rizzio, thou must make it in the proper way, and he shall be 
cited before the Lords of Parliament,' the Queen said, very 
angrily. 

But Ruthven, indifferent to her anger, answered : 

' We who have charges against him have a more summary 
and effectual way of dealing with him.' 

' Retire, my lord, instantly, or thou shalt be arraigned for 
treason,' the Queen commanded sternly ; but without heeding 

9 



130 BASILS THE JESTER 

her, he moved towards the trembling Rinio, who rushed 
behind the Queen, exclaiming : 

' Madame, I am dead ! Have mercy ! Save my life, 
madame — save my life !' 

Ruthven and his assassins pressed forward, and Rixzio, ashen 
with horror, continued to cry out for pity. The Queen, with 
dauntless mien, endeavoured to defend him, and in the 
struggle she herself was pushed down, and the table fell upon 
her. In his fright Rizzio seized her dress and clung to her ; 
but Damley, who up to this time had been a passive spectator 
of the terrible scene, loosed his hands, and then, in order to 
prevent the Queen making any further effort to save him, he 
clasped her tightly in his arms. Then the murderers rushed 
forward and dragged the trembling and pallid Italian away. 
At this sight her Majesty turned indignantly to her husband, 
and said : 

' You, my lord, should not forget the good services this David 
Rixzio has rendered you. You owe him much. Have you no 
pity ? Raise your voice, sir, and command these munierous 
ruffians to release their victim, on pain of death to themselves.' 

' Madame,' answered Damley hypocritically, ' thy servant 
will not be injured.' 

'Then, wherefore has he been cruelly taken forth of our 
cabinet.^' asked the Queen, beginning to fear for her own 
Ufe. 

' Thou shalt know anon,' her husband murmured. 

In the meantime Rizzio was dragged through the Queen's 
bedchamber to the entrance of her sitting-room, which ad- 
joined it. There there were a crowd of the conspirators wait- 
ing for their victim. Rizzio whined piteously for mercy, and 
Morton and Lindsay suggested that he should be spared until 
the following day ; but George Douglas, who had borrowed 
the King's dagger, rushed forward and struck the wretched 
man with it, crying out at the same time : 

* That is the royal blow. Who will follow y 

Instantly the surging crowd of assassins closed around him, 
and blow afler blow was fiercely struck, until he was mangled 
by no fewer than fifly-six wounds. The ghastly work being 
completed, a window was raised, and the bleeding and still 
palpitating body was fiung out into the courtyard. Then 
Ruthven, looking like a corpse himself, and bespattered with 
his victim's blood, reeled faint and sick into the Queen's 



THE MURDER OF DAVID RIZZIO 131 

cabinet, and, seizing a cup of wine, gulped it down, and ex- 
claimed when he had got his breath : 

' Madame, your favourite has been put to death because he 
was a disgrace to yourself and a curse to your kingdom, and 
because he has exercised such pernicious influence over you 
that he has induced you to t3nrannize over and to banish your 
nobility. And on his account, madame, you have maintained 
blameworthy connections with foreign princes in order that 
you might restore the ancient religion ; and you have admitted 
into your counsels the Earls of Bothwell and Huntley, who 
are both traitors.' 

The Queen heard this impudent and daring speech with 
burning indignation and shame ; and she turned with scarlet 
face to her husband, sa3ring : 

' You are a coward to have permitted this dastardly crime ; 
you have inflicted a lasting disgrace upon me, notwithstanding 
that I took you from a humble position and raised you to the 
throne. Shame on you, you traitor and son of a traitor !' 

' Madame,' answered her husband abjectly, ' it was to save 
your honour and preserve my contentment that I gave my 
consent to his being taken away.' 

' Shame on you !' she repeated, with a passionate burst of 
energy, and weeping bitterly. 'Shame on you!' she cried 
again. ' Never again shall 1 know happiness until I have 
made you feel something of the shame, humiliation, and 
sorrow you have inflicted on me. It shall be dear blood to 
some of you. Mark me well what I say.' 

Ruthven presented a ghastly spectacle ; his face, in which 
death was plainly written, was livid ; he suddenly tossed off his 
helmet, and seemed to be stniggling hard to draw his breath ; 
but at the Queen's wonl he started up, and with the rudeness 
and coarseness which characterized him, he exclaimed : 

' God forbid, madame ! for the more your Grace shows your- 
self offended, the worse the world will judge of you.' 

The Queen, unable to endure the scene any longer, turned 
away to her chamber, where her brutal enemies locked her up 
all that fearful night, and would not permit her the consolation 
even of one of her gentlewomen. 

When she had gone, Ruthven, whose disease, which was 
destined two months later to kill him, had been much 
aggravated by the terrible work in which he had that night 
engaged, sank into a stupor ; and Daniley, turning to Fran^*ois, 



1S2 BASILE THE JESTER 

who^ dumb with horror and bitter repentance, still crouched in 
a corner^ said : 

' Rouse thee, boy, thou hast done well, and for thy part in 
this good night's work thou wilt be rewarded with Bomcester 8 
pretty daughter.' 

Renaud, who in his capacity of physician had been previously 
summoned to attend to Lord Ruthven, appeared in the room 
at this moment, and hearing Damley's words, he said, with 
assumed indignation and revolting hypocrisy : 

' If what you say, my Lord Damley, means aught, it means 
that my son has been an actor in this sad tragedy.' 

' Ay, and wherefore not ?' Damley responded loftily. ' It is 
a good night's work, and thy son has merited well of his 
country.' 

' He is a traitor !' cried Renaud, still affecting to be highly 
indignant. 

At these words Fran9ois sprang forward, and, kneeling at 
Renaud's feet, exclaimed : 

' You are right, sir ; I am indeed a traitor.* 

* Go thy ways,' said Renaud, spurning him : ' and doubt not 
that this act will meet with condign punishment.' 

Fran9ois rose, and with bowed head left the room ; then 
Damley, turning angrily to Renaud, said ; 

' Talk not of punishment, sirrah ; but give thy duty and 
attention to this worthy gentleman, my Lord of Ruthven, who 
seems to be in a parlous state.' 

Damley left the room, and Renaud, knowing how politic it 
was to be silent in the present critical state of affairs, obeyed 
his command, and proceeded to administer a restorative to 
Ruthven. 

CHAPTER XXV. 

THE QUEEN PLAYS HAZARD AND WINS. 

During the fearful night which followed the murder of David 
Rixzio the wretched Queen was plunged in the deepest afflic- 
tion, and was kept a captive in her room. On the following 
day her husband proclaimed himself King, and at once pro- 
nounced the dissolution of Parliament, commanding its members 
to leave Edinburgh within three hours on pain of treason. A 
little later he went to his wife's room and found her prostrated 



THE QUEEN PLAYS HAZARD AND WINS 133 

with grief. The vivid impression of the awful spectacle she 
had witnessed, the image of the brutal and terrible Ruthven, 
who seemed ready to strike her down, and the dark designs 
which she could not doubt were entertained against her by 
her corrupt nobility, all served to excite her to an unusual 
degree, and to throw her into a sort of delirium. Her weak 
and cowardly husband was startled and moved to sympathy by 
her condition, and determined that she should have attend- 
ance, and in spite of the protests of his confederates he oniered 
her gentlewomen to her. 

Although the Queen was bowed and crushed for the time, 
her marvellous mental powers enabled her to triumph over her 
physical prostration ; and seeing clearly that she must entirely 
depend upon herself if she would be saved, and cherishing in 
her heart a burning sense of wrong and outrage, and a lively 
desire for a swifl and terrible vengeance, she began to dis- 
semble. She knew well what a poor, weak fool Darnley was, 
and so, simulating warm affection for him, she used all her 
arts and wiles to win him to her side. She pointed out 
to him that he was placing himself in the power of her 
and his enemies, who in their yearning for power would 
not fail to turn upon him ultimately, and hurl him from the 
throne. 

Darnley was much impressed and influenced by these 
representations, which he knew only too well were liable to be 
realized, for intrigue, conspiracies, and murder were the order of 
the day; and conscious of his own innate weakness of character, 
he felt that he could not hope to hold his own against the 
cabal that would be formed by the traitors. He therefore 
yielded to the Queen, and consented to aid her. 

The palace was still occupied by the conspirators, the leaders 
of whom were engaged in maturing their plans for imprison- 
ing the Queen in Stirling Castle, and in placing Darnley at 
the head of affairs. But only as a puppet, for they knew his 
indecision of character too well to entrust him with absolute 
and deft|x>tic power. 

After his interview with the Queen, Darnley had an audience 
with the leaders, and represented to them that his wife was 
in a fever, and that her life would be endangered unless they 
consented to withdraw and leave her for a time in iH*ace and 
quietude. He pledged himself to undertake her guardian- 
ship, and to see that she did not escape. He also assured 



134 BASILE THE JESTER 

them that she had expressed her willingness to forgive the 
murder of Rizzio. 

The conspirators were very sceptical, and announced their 
firm belief that she was only practising an artifice in order to 
gain time and rally her friends. But the King persisted in 
his statements, and pledged himself to safeguard her ; and so 
after much parleying, and a display of mutual distrust, he 
prevailed over his confederates, who reluctantly consented 
to withdraw. On Monday evening they lefl the palace, but 
openly declared their doubts as to the King's fidelity. As 
soon as they had gone, the gates were closed, strong guards 
were posted all over the grounds and in the courtyard, 
and everything was done to prevent another surprise ; while 
the inmates, even to the humblest servant, were given to 
understand that any attempt on their part to leave the palace 
or communicate with anyone outside would be punished with 
instant death. 

These measures of safety ha\ang been taken, Damley at 
once repaired to his wife's chamber, where she renewed her 
expressions of affection, and proposed to him that their only 
real safety now lay in flight, and that if they could succeed in 
reaching the Castle of Dunbar all would yet be well. To 
this course Damley assented, and the Queen immediately 
summoned to her presence the captain of the guard, who had 
proved himself staunch and loyal. To him she confided the 
scheme, and bade him have fleet horses ready at midnight. 
He withdrew, together with Damley, to mature the plan, and 
to take every precaution to prevent its miscarriage. 

When she was once more alone with her gentlewomen, the 
Queen wept bitterly, for her profound sorrow at the loss ot 
Rizzio was not one jot abated, and turning to Adrienne de 
Bois, who was amongst her faithful attendants, she ex- 
claimed : 

' Ah, woe is me that I should be thus treated ! Those whom 
I have most trusted and loved have betrayed me; and my 
kindness and attention have been repaid with base ingratitude. 
Even thy foster son, Adrienne, has proved a traitor.* 

'Alas, madame, I fear me that it is so.' 

'Of that there is no doubt,' answered the Queen. 'We 
had reason to believe he was playing us false, and we had him 
watched by our spies. He was seen to go to the house of the 
arch-traitor, Bomcestor — lured thither, no doubt, by the pretty 



THE QUEEN PLAYS HAZARD AND WINS 135 

daughter — and notwithstanding that he pledged me that 
he would have nothing more to do with her.' 

'How know you, madame, that he went there?' asked 
Adrienne, feeling sceptical, and finding it difficult to realize 
that the boy she had loved so well should prove so false. 

* His own father informed us that he had clandestinely led 
the palace.' Adrienne started and turned pale at this state- 
ment. ' We therefore set a watch upon him/ continued the 
Queen, ' and on leaving Bomcester's house he was seized and 
identified in order that there should be no possibility of doubt. 
I intended at a proper time to have taxed him with his breach 
of faith, for I thought his worst crime was his infatuation for 
the old fanatic's daughter. But now I learn from Renaud, 
whose love and respect for me earns my lasting gratitude, that 
his unworthy son was actually in the conspiracy for the bar- 
barous slaying of poor Rizzia' 

'Alas, your Grace, this is heavy news indeed,' moaned 
Adrienne, as she fell weeping at the Queen's feet, while her 
heart was filled, with intense bitterness at the thought that 
Renaud should have betrayed his own son. 

' Rise, good Adrienne,' said the Queen. ' Thou at least art 
faithful. Punishment shall be meted out to all our enemies, 
and a full share shall fall upon the head of this unworthy and 
traitorous boy.' 

Adrienne did not rise at the Queen's request She was too 
much cut up and overwhelmed with sorrow ; while fear for 
Fran9ois deprived her of speech for some minutes. She held 
the Queen's hand between her own, and her hot tears fell 
upon it When she had regained her self-possession a little, 
she said in piteous accents : 

' Ah, your Majesty, fain would I plead for Francis. That 
he has been wayward and wilful I cannot doubt But 
your Grace is full of compassion, and I pray you look lightly 
upon his transgressions.' 

Her Majesty was evidently greatly annoyed, and she 
turned a look of anger upon the kneeling woman at her feet 

' Rise, I bid thee,' she said ; * and when thou plcad'st for 
something that is reasonable we may be disposed to grant it 
But now we are too aggrieved and cast down to be inclined to 
listen to prayers for traitors. Our person has been insulted, our 
servant barbarously done to death, our privacy shamefully 
intruded upon, and we ourselves have been kept prisoner in 



156 BASILE THE JESTER 

oar own palace. Dost think that such outrages can be dealt 
with lightlj ? No. Mademoiselle Adrienne, there shall be a 
swift and certain reckoning, and woe be to those who hare 
played us false. Francis shall no more escape than shall the 
arch-leader of these despicable conspirators.' 

Adrienne had risen at the Queen's peremptory command, 
and stood now in sorrowful attitude before her, and said, 
when her Majesty had done speaking: 

' I pray humbly, your Grace, that your Grace's enemies may 
be speedily confounded, but amongst them I crave leave to 
think that Fran9ois cannot be included. He is devoted to 
your Majesty ; nay, I pledge my life to it. And, pardon me 
for saying so, I am of opinion that, for reasons which I cannot 
divine, his father is his enemy and wishes him away. There- 
fore he does not hesitate to speak ill of him.' 

The Queen grew red with anger at these words, and she 
said excitedly : 

' Out upon thee for a spiteful jade ! Thou bringest thyself 
into contempt in our sight by endeavouring to vilify so 
staunch and faithful a servant as Dr. Renaud. He has proved 
his devotion by not failing to impeach even his own son. But 
thou hast always borne ill-feeling for Renaud. Where^ 
fore so?* 

Adrienne saw that further argument would be useless. 
Then, and in broken voice, she said : 

'I am faint, your Majesty, and crave your leave to with- 
draw.' 

'Get thee gone at once,' exclaimed the Queen passion- 
ately, 'and quit our palace without loss of time ! We do not 
wish to ever look upon thy face again !' 

Adrienne heard these terrible words with a shudder, for 
they seemed to her like a doom, and all her hopes died in her 
heart She tried to make some answer, but could not. The 
words stuck in her throat. Her face was pallid, and her heart 
cold with a nameless fear. She paused for some moments, 
until she had regained some little control over herself. Then 
she suddenly seized the Queen's hand and kissed it fervently 
several times, and managed to stammer forth : 

' Farewell, your Majesty. You will live to prove that I am 
faithful and true to you.' 

She could say no more, but, turning away, she fairly staggered 
out of the room. 



THE MIDNIGHT FLIGHT 137 

CHAPTER XXVL 

THE MIDNIGHT PLIGHT. 

The great bell of the Tron Church had tolled midnight, and 
a solemn silence, like that of death, reigned over the city and 
the palace, in striking contrast to the din and clash of arms, 
and the hoarse roar of drunken and passionate voices, which 
had filled the air some hours ago. Three powerful and fleet 
horses stood, ready saddled, in the courtyard ; and, in order 
that they might make no noise, their hoofs were enveloped in 
woollen cloths. The Captain of the Guard was Arthur Erskine, 
a bold and dauntless man, who was devoted to the Queen. 
He hail taken the precaution to personally set the watch that 
night, and had posted at the various gates only men whom he 
knew he could implicitly trust. Those about whom he had 
the slightest doubt he had supplied with unlimited quantities 
of wine and cognac, and they were all either sunk in a drunken 
sleep or, at any rate, helpless to offer any resistance, even had 
they been so inclined. 

I'he majority of the servants had been sent to bed, and only 
a few of the most attached attendants and gentlewomen were 
in the Queen's secret. 

Her Majesty, in order to prepare herself for the arduous 
undertaking upon which she knew her kingdom, her throne, 
and her very life dejiended, had for some hours previously 
tried to compose herself and obtain sleep. But the sleep only 
came to her in snatches, for she was racked with a burning 
unrest and a craving for a speedy vengeance on her foes. She 
had completely gained over her silly husband, and he was to 
accom|>any her in her flight, together with Arthur Erskine. 
Damley had suggestetl a tnnip of horse-soldiers going with 
her, but she had determinedly opposed this on the grounds 
that they would only prove an impediment to rapid flight, 
and might have to succumb if overtaken by a superior force. 

' Our safety will be in swiftness,' she had said ; ' but should 
a small number of our enemies ovei4ake us, I warrant me that 
we shall prove a match for at least a dozen of them,' and then 
she added with significance, ' unless ihif heart fails thee, my 
huslMind.' 

She had no faith in his personal courage. She knew him 



138 BASILE THE JESTER 

to be a poor^ weak, vacillating creature, with no resource 
and little energy. But Erskine was dauntless as a lion, and 
in her defence would fight like a savage lion at bay ; while 
as for herself, she mentally vowed never to be taken alive. 

' Nay,' her husband had answered ; ' my heart won't fail 
me; I will defend thee to the death. If I have ever 
cherished bitterness against thee, it is gone now. It died 
with the man Rizzio. I am now thy devoted lover, and what 
will a lover not do ?' 

His reference to Rizzio was an unfortunate one. It filled 
the Queen with fierce anger, and increased her hatred for her 
traitorous husband ; but with her wonderful self-<x>ntrol she 
had given no signs of her feelings. She was not yet out of 
the wood, and she knew that an indiscreet word or act might 
once more place her in the hands of her enemies. 

All being ready for the start, her Majesty divested herself 
of her fine clothes, and donned the modest attire of a serving- 
maid. But round her waist she wore a leathern belt, in which 
she carried two pistols and a long, keen dagger. She had 
also impressed upon Erskine not to neglect to have heavily- 
loaded pistols in the holsters of the saddles. Over her dress 
she threw a dark cloak with a hood that fitted to the head, 
and fastened with a band at the neck. Thus equipped, she 
was on the point of leaving her chamber, when Adrienne de 
Bois entered hurriedly, and, throwing herself at the Queen's 
feet, seized her Majesty's gown, and cried passionately, and 
yet in subdued tones : 

' Your Majesty, hear, hear me ! Say that I have your pardon 
before you leave ! Pity me, I beseech you !' 

This detention only enraged the Queen, who, believing that 
Adrienne had meanly tried to asperse the character of Renaud, 
felt that she could not forgive her, and plucking her gown 
away violently, she cried : 

' Begone, woman ! Thou art banished from our kingdom ! 
When we return — and return we assuredly will — if we find 
thee here, thy life shall be forfeited. I vow it by the Holy 
Cross.' 

With a piteous wail of heart-broken pain, Adrienne sank to 
the floor in a swoon, and her Majesty hurried from the room. 
She descended the secret staircase, up which Rizzio's mur- 
derers had come, and when she gained the courtyard, she 
found Damley and Erskine already in their saddles. Erskine 



THE MIDNIGHT FLIGHT 139 

wu heavily armed, but wore no annour, in order that his horse 
might not be overweighted. He was tlbout to descend, in 
order to assist the Queen, but before he could do bo she hod 
sprung lightly into the saddle. 

Fortunately the night was gloomy. The sky was overcast, 
and rain was threatening. The gate facing the courtyard was 
wide open by order of Erskine, and two of his trusty men 
stood one on each side to close it instantly the fugitives had 
passed. All was very stilL Not a lijjht gleamed from one of 
the many windows of the palace, which rose up shadowy and 
grim in the darkness, its salient angles and outlines alone 
being definable. 

' Is your Majesty ready f Ersktne whispered. 

'Quite,' she answered, while her heart palpitated wildly 
with new-bom hopes and the near prospect of liberty and 
vengeance. 

I->skine gave a low whistle as a signal to the guard at the 
gate. Then, under his breath, he said, 'Off.' The three 
riders dug their rowels into the sides of the horses, which 
bounded forward, the muffled hoofs making never a sound. 
Like phantoms they sped through the gateway, and the iron 
gate shut silently behind them. Then once more the riders 
spurred their steeds. Each rider knew that it was liberty or 
death, and so at breakneck pace they sped on their wild night 
journey of twenty-five miles to the Castle of Dunbar. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

WITH ACMINO HEART. 

Great was the consternation on the following morning 
amongst the conspirators when thi'y found that their captive 
bird had flown. And great was their fear also, for they 
doubted not that now that the Queen was at lilierty she 
would speedily rally around her powerful friends and rnisi- an 
army, and then woe betide those who had dared to attempt 
to overthrow her authority! Against Damley there was one 
universal feeling of hatred, and many were the execrations 
uttered against hini, for he had betrayed them, and proved 
false to all his pledges. 

Notwithstanding all their fears, however, the conspirators 



140 BASILE THE JKSTER 

despatched Lord Semple after the fugitive Queen to demand 
from her the fulfilment of her promise to give them an 
indemnity against the consequences of their crime. The 
messenger duly arrived at Dunbar, but the Queen would give 
him no answer for three days. And during those three days 
what a lot she accomplished ! By the aid of the Earls of 
Bothwell, Huntly, Athol Marshal, and Caithness, and the 
Archbishop of St. Andrews, the Lords Hume and Yester, 
she found herself at the head of a powerful army. Then, 
throwing off all disguise, she appeared as the Queen of Scot- 
land again, and immediately issued a proclamation against all 
those who had been concerned in the late outrage and murder, 
and cited them to appear before her. 

We must turn back a little, however, in point of time in 
order to follow the other characters in the story. 

Poor Adrienne de Bois, who had fallen into disgrace with 
the Queen, was fairly broken-hearted ; but she thought less 
of herself than of Fran9ois. It was very hard for her, who had 
been the Queen's faithful follower from childhood, to be 
banished now from all that she held dear ; but to her mind it 
was harder that the boy she loved with all a mother's love 
should have to bear the Queen's anger. On the day following 
the Queen's flight Adrienne was so ill that she could scarcely 
stand, but, nevertheless, she made her way to Francis's 
lodgings, where she found him cast down and suffering in mind 
and body. 

' Oh, my son !' she cried passionately, as she flung her arms 
round his neck, 'what hast thou done to bring thyself thus 
into the Queen's displeasure? Surely thou canst not have 
been guilty of conspiring against her. Thou hast been misled. 
Thou hast been drawn into the webs of these bold, bad men 
who have committed this fearful deed, but thine own hands 
are clean and thy heart is free from guile. Assure me that it 
is so, my son, or I shall die.' 

Fran9ois was greatly distressed at Adrienne's passionate 
grief, but he felt ashamed of himself, and all unworthy of her 
love and devotion. He tenderly loosed her arms from his neck 
and led her to a seat. Then he answered : 

' I have been drawn into this matter. But, oh, it was for 
love's sake !' 

' For love's sake !' she cried in astonishment. 

'Truly so. Sweet Lilian Bomcester's beauty has cast a 
spell upon me.' 



WITH ACHING HEART !*1 

'A spell of madness, verilf,' said Adrienne witl) warmth. 
' Since thou coutdst be so blinded by love as to forget thy 
solemn duty to the Queen, to whom thou owest so much. 
Thou wert aware, then, of this cowardly conspiracy ?' 

' And what part didst tbou play in it f 

He was abaished, and hung his head in bitter shame, and 
not for some moments did he answer. Then : 

' I lefl the door of her Majesty's cabinet unlocked in order 
that the conspirators might enter without let or hindrance.' 

' Oh, boy, thou hast broken my heart !' Adrienne cried, as, 
'bursting into tears, she covered her face with her hands. 
Francis was greatly touched, and, going to her, he tried to 
caress her. But she pushed him away, and he turned Mkdly 
towards the window to hide the tears that were streaming 
down his cheeks. , 

'Thou hast brought shame on me,' she moaned, 'and on 
thyself eternal disgrace.' 

'Shame !' he echoed, turning deadly pale, as he faced her. 

'Ay, Francis,' she said sadly, 'and 1 must go away.' 

' An thou go, then I go also with thee,' he answered reso- 
lutely. 

' Nay, that is impossible,' she replied. 

'Wherefore impossible ?" he cried. 

' Firstly, because her Majesty has not so commanded thee, 
and therefore thou wouldst be still further guilty of dis- 
obedience. And secondly, because it is thy duty to remain 
here until her Majesty returns.' 

' Duty,' he murmured — ' duty to fall a victim to her Majt'sty's 
wrath,' 

' Tbou hast brought the wrath upon thyself,' Adrienne 
answered a little sbar{)ly, for though she loved Francois, she 
could not help a feeling uf anger ; ' and as thou hast made a 
rod for thine own back, thou roust perforce bear the whi|i|iing.' 

' Ay, I fear it must be so,' he said, with a great sigh, as he 
saw clearly that he had involved himself in a very dangerous 
dilficulty ; and while yearning to do something that vould 
conspicuously display his loyalty to the Queen, be could not 
avoid his heart going out to the beautiful Lilian. If he was 
disloyal, it was tot beauty's sake ; and if he forgot his duty, it 
was because Lilian had enstavetl him. And yet he knew (hat 
if he adhered to Lilian he must be fklae to the Queen ; and if 



142 BASILE THE JESTER 

he served the Queen faithfully he must give up Lilian^ for her 
father would never consent to her marriage with one who 
worshipped in the old faith and who loyally served her Majesty. 
He must decide for love or Queen — that is, assuming that he 
was yet left free to choose ; but at that moment all was doubt 
and uncertainty, and he knew not whether when her Majesty 
returned, she would not sacrifice him, amongst others, to her 
vengeance. If he fled, whither could he go ? He might ally 
himself to the Queen's enemies, but if she regained power 
they would be scattered, and he might find himself wandering 
about the country like a hunted beast Means he had none, 
and friends he had none outside of the palace ; and he felt 
perfectly sure that if he relied on the fanatical Bomcester it 
would be leaning on a very rotten reed. He therefore had 
no alternative but to remain where he was and meet his fate, 
whatever that might be. 

He was much cut up to see how distressed Adrienne was ; 
and kneeling down beside her, he drew her arms about him, 
while she, yielding to a womanly instinct, pressed his head to 
her throbbing bosom, and sobbed bitterly. 

' Do not weep,' he said affectionately. ' Thou hast been a 
fond and doting mother to me, and the love I have lacked in 
my father I have found in thee, and I am deeply, truly grate- 
ful. If her Majesty does not exact the forfeit of my poor life, 
I Mrill strive honestly and faithfully to do my duty, and will 
endeavour by good deeds to win thee a place again in her 
love. But promise me this, dear mother : thou wilt not go 
away. Sny that it shall be so.' 

The suggestion that the Queen might exact the forfeit of 
his life produced a sickening sense of fear in Adrienne, for 
she knew that the Queen was revengeful, and would be little 
disposed to show the slightest leniency to anyone who had 
been even indirectly instrumental in bringing about Rizzio's 
death. She was sorely troubled as this thought came to her, 
and was on the point of urging Francois to fly with her. But, 
on the other hand, she clearly perceived that this course could 
only serve to do away with every chance of his gaining the 
Queen's pardon ; for his share in the conspiracy would be 
magnified, and a price would assuredly be set upon his head. 
And certainly he would not be able to find a place of safety, 
save it was in England or France. Under these circumstances 
$be resisted the temptation to propose flight to him, but she 



HOW RENAUD SCORED A TRIUMPH 143 

resolved on another eourse in order to endeavour to lighten 
the ]>unishment which the Queen might be pleased to inflict. 

She rose and embraced him, and said : ' I will think over 
thy words ; at any rate, I will try to remain as near to thee 
as may be possible.' 

She kissed him aflectiotiately ; he returned her embrace, 
and having arranged to see her again that evening, be allowed 
her to go from him, and when he was once more alone 
he sank into a chair, and, burying his face in his hands, 
pondered on his future. He was not quite hopeless, but he 
could not help thinking that even if he escaped with his life, 
his future would be dark and tortuous. 



CHAPTER XXVni. 

HOW HENAUD BCX>RKn A TRIUMPH. 

Whbn Adrienne left her foster son she made her way to 
Itenaud. He seemed somehow as though he had been ex- 
pecting her, for he rose from a table where he had been 
engaged in the study of some Latin book on medicine, and, 
placing a seat for ber, said, with a sardonic smile : 

' So you have come at last' 

Adrienne was too agitated and too seriously troubled to 
notice the significance of this remark. Perhaps at any other 
time she would have l)een struck by his manner, for though 
she had never before been to his private room, he seemed nut 
at all surprised, but accepted her visit as quite in accordance 
with his own thoughts. As he offered her a seat, and she 
accepted it, she shud<lered ever so slightly, for she really had 
a dread of the man — a dread that had become positive hatred 
since that interview in the picture-gallery. Yet now \hc had 
absolutely come to sue to him — sue to the man whom she 
despised. 

It seemed like the very irony of fate that she. who had 
on<^ had influence and power with the Queeu, should now, as 
an outcast, And herself compelled to come to a man who in a 
few brief years had risen from nameless obscurity to a [tosition 
which, in some limited rcRpects, enabled him to be a dictator. 
They were, however, whirligig times in which these people 
lived ; and tbe mra who wh the Queea'a idol to-day might 



144 BASILE THE JESTER 

to-morrow be handed over to the headsman. Adrienne had 
fallen from favour into disgrace, and though she could have 
suffered and sorrowed in silence so far as she herself was con- 
cerned, she felt that the motherly instincts of her woman's 
nature would not allow her to remain dumb when the boy 
she loved with a mother's love, although she was not his 
mother, was in periL 

When she had somewhat composed herself, she made answer 
to Renaud : 

' Thou dost not seem to be much affected by the terrible 
events of the last few hours.' 

' Wherefore should I be ?* he asked brusquely. ' I neither 
loved nor hated David Rizzio, and therefore I can look upon 
his death with indifference.' 

' But surely thou hast some regard for thy Queen,' Adrienne 
exclaimed sharply, experiencing a sense of intense disgust at 
his brutal cynicism. ' To her thy rise and present power is 
due. Hast thou no gratitude ?* 

' Yes ; I have both regard and gratitude,' he answered with 
deliberation. 

' Then, how is it I find thee so calm when the Sovereign of 
these realms is in flight from her enemies ?' 

He smiled contemptuously as he replied : 

'I have schooled myself into philosophy, and nothing 
surprises me. But I might be more concerned did I not 
deem it in the highest degree probable that her Majesty will 
speedily return, and, with a mighty power, crush those who 
have opposed her. But an it should not be so, I shall know 
how to take care of myself and those who love me, even amidst 
the ruins of a throne and the anarchy of a nation.' 

' Thy selfishness is hateful,' she said bitterly. 

' We are all selfish, from the Queen downwards,' he returned. 
' Selfishness is the primary law of our being. Had I not been 
selfish I should not have risen as I have. But, nevertheless, I 
have thought and feeling for those who are bound to me and 
serve me,' 

' I am glad to hear thee say so,' she answered, ' since thy 
son stands sorely in need now of thy thoughts and feelings.' 

' My son is a traitor,' he answered quickly. 

' I am aware that thou hast so impeached him, even to the 
Queen,* Adrienne remarked with bitter irony. 

' And wouldst thou haye counselled me to do pth^rwis^ ?' 



HOW RENAUD SCOHED A TRIUMP.. 1+5 

' He is thy son,' said Adrienne sternly. 

' And I am her Majesty's loyal and dutiful subject. And 
in doing what I h&ve, I have but done my duty,' he 
answered. 

' Thou hast exceeded thy duty, since thy conduct has placed 
him in grievous peri).' 

' But thou art all powerful to shelter him from the conse- 
quences of his folly,' Renaud said pointedly, and with a cold 
smile of sarcasm wreathing itself about his thin lips. ' With a 
friend snch as thou art at his back he has little to fear.' 

This remark so stung Adrienne, and so forcibly reminded 
her of her own helplessness, that she could not possibly restrain 
tears from welling to her eyes, and a sob escaping from her lips. 
Noticing her emotion, he put out his hand and attempted to 
take hers, saying : 

'A woman in tears is a pitiful sight. I would give thee 
comfort Wherefore art thou sad ?' 

She shrank from him and made answer : 

' For myself I want not thy comfort nor thy pity.* 

'And yet they are not to be despised,' he remarked 
pointedly. 

' Perhaps not, by those who appreciate thee. But I do not.' 

' Then, why hast thou come here f he asked as a dark frown 
clouded hb brow, for his vanity was wounded. 

'To plead for thy sou.' 

' I am not the Queen,' he said sarcastically. 

'No; but thou art bis father.' 

'And thou — and thou art his foster-mother, and in high 
favour with her Majesty.' 

' No longer so,' .\drienne murmured, bursting into tears, so 
that she did not aotice the smile of malignancy that came 
into his face. 

'Ah, can thatbe possible 7' he exclaimed in seeming surprise, 
and yet there was something so forced in his manner that she 
looked at him fixedly through her tears, and asked : 

' Wert thou in entire ignorance of it ?' 

' Not quite,' he answered. ' Rumour had reached me, but 
the air now is thick with rumours, and one knows not what to 

'Then take my confirmation of the ramour, and know that 
I am banished by her Majesty.' 
' Banished 1' 

10 



146 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Even so, alas !' 

* By St Agnes — but this is news indeed !' he said with 
simulated sorrow. And then, after a considerable pause, 
he asked : ' What, then, is the errand that has brought thee 
to me ?' 

' I come to claim thy influence on behalf of thine own flesh 
and blood.' 

' But Francis has been guilty of treason,' he observed, 
watching her from the comers of his eyes. 

* And what of that ?' she asked with cutting severity. ' He 
is a youth, and has been drawn into this sad business ; and it 
is thy solemn and sacred duty to save him from the penalty of 
his folly, or at any rate to mitigate his punishment' 

' Thou art attributing much power to me,' he said. 

' The power to do what I know thou canst do, for the Queen 
has faith in thee, though mine in thee be dead.' 

This was an unfortunate remark, as it placed a weapon in 
his hands which he did not fail to avail himself of. 

' I am glad you recognise my power,' he said, with ill-con- 
cealed joy ; ' but sorry, in truth, to hear thee say that thou 
hast no faith. It was not always so.' 

' No ; but then I knew thee not as I know thee now.' 

' Tliou loved me once,' he remarked in an insinuating tone. 

* I thought so.* 

' Thought so !' he echoed. 

' Aye ; but soon I found my error.* 

' No,' he said, as a sinister expression came into his face, 
' that is not so, but another man came between me and thee.' 

' Thou speakest falsely and shamefully !' she cried with 
great indignation, and then, checking herself, said: 'But 
let us not quarrel. Thou hast power and influence. I come 
to pray thee to use them on behalf of thy son. I am going 
away, going by the Queen's commands, but Francois remains. 
Thou must intercede for him and get him panloned.' 

' And where goest thou }* Renaud asked with considerable 
eagerness. 

' Alas ! I know not I go into exile to die of a broken 
heart' 

' Thou must not die yet, and particularly of such a complaint 
as that,' he said, drawing a little closer to her. ' Between 
thee and me, at such a time as this, there should be no 
diff<?r^nce/ he went op, 'Thou hast come to me for help. 



HOW RENAUD SCORED A TRIUMPH 147 

And thou *rt going into exile to die of ft broken heart. The 
first I can give thee, the second I can prevent on — one 
condition.' 

She looked up at him as he stood over her now with his 
head shghtly bent towards her, and his hand so posed as to 
suggest that be wanted her to take it. 

' What is the condition ?' she asked, with palpitating heart, 
and knowing full well what the answer would be. 

'That thou wilt become my wife,' be answered, dwelling 
upon each word. 

She started up, hacked away a little, and stood, in an attitude 
of scorn and indignation, facing him. 

' Thou art a coward,' she said. 

' For loving thee ?' he put in ironically. 

' No, for thou dost not love me ; but tor endeavouring 
to take advantage of my sad condition to force upon me an 
odious union.' 

'Thou art frank at any rate, and that is something,' he said 
with a sneer. ' But listen. I have for years endeavoured to 
win thee and failed, and now that thou art helpless 1 offer 
thee help, and ask thee in return to become my wife. For 
this thou art polite enough to call me coward. But let me 
inquire if thou art able to help thyself without my assistance f 

' I plead for thy son,' she urged in a choking voice. 

' Good. Thou hast affection for my son f 

' Mother never had more fervent love for her child than I 
have for him.' 

'Then listen to me. I have known for some time of his 
traitorous designs, and I warned her Majesty, as it was my 
duty, even though that duty was against my own son. But I 
have not told her Majesty all, and, though I know not what 
punishment may be in store for him, I will promise thee this, 
that an I make known his further deetls his life will of a 
certainty be forfeit' 

Carried away by her feelings, and overcome by emotion, 
Adrienne threw herself on her knees before him, and wailed 
out in piteous accents : 

'Oh, but thou Witt not, thou wilt not do this thing!' 

He smiled triumphantly an he saw her kneeling to him. 
Then he turned towards the table, whereon stood a small gilt 
crucifix, such as was used by all Catholics. He lifted it up 
VDd said; 



148 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Look here. This is the holy symbol of our common faith. 
By it I solemnly vow and declare that an thou wilt not become 
my wife Francois dies.* 

As he uttered these words she gave vent to a scream, and 
fell prone on the floor. He stooped down, raised her, and 
placed her in a chair. 

For some minutes she wept bitterly, during which he 
uttered no word, but stood watching her. Then at last she 
murmured : 

' Hast thou no pity ?* 

'I am very fiill of pity,* he answered. 'It is thou who 
lackest it Say, wilt thou save Francois ?* 

She moaned with mental anguish. She knew this man too 
well to doubt for a single moment that he would not hesitate 
to do what he threatened. Then her thoughts flew to Basile. 
He had confessed love for her, and she asked herself whether 
he could help her now in her dire extremity. Alas ! the only 
answer her mind could frame was an emphatic ' No.' How 
could he } she thought He had no power : his position was 
too humble. Love her he did, of that she was sure ; and he 
would lay his life down to serve her, but that was of no use if 
he could not save the life of Francois. 

Tortured in her mind with these reflections, and seeing no 
hope, turn her eyes which way she would, savs in this man 
whom she despised, she resolved to sacriflce herself for 
Francois's sake ; and so, in sad tones of despair and heartfelt 
pain, she said : - 

' An thou wilt give me a pledge that not a hair of Francois's 
head shall be injured, I will promise to become thy wife.' 

' My pledge is here,' he said, laying his hand •nee more on 
the crucifix. ' I swear it by this symbol.' 

' Then what wouldst thou have me do ?' she asked sadly. 

' Thou must leave the palace as her Majesty has so ordered,' 
he answered, feeling very anxious to get her away from Basile's 
influence, for he still dreaded him. ' Thou must go into hiding, 
and by to-morrow I will have secured quarters for thee.' 

' And what of Francois }* she asked eagerly. 

' Leave him to me. I promise thee he shall be restored to 
the Queen's favour.' 

' When I am assured of that, and not till then^ will I be« 
come thy wife,' she answered. 

'The condition is a fair one ; I accept it' 



THE MOTHER LOVE U9 

He seemed disposed to embrace her, but she hurriedly rose 
to escape it, and said : 

' 1 am aweary and sick at heart I will to my chamber, 
and to-morrow will await thy instructions.' 

She held forth her hand and allowed him to kiss it Then 
he opened the door and she passed out, and as he turned back 
into his room he rubbed his hands gleefully, and laughing 
aloud, said to himself: 

' Renaud, thy patience is rewarded. Thou hast won at 
last' 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

THE MOTHER LOVK. 

Adiuenne de Boi8 felt that she had offered herself up as a 
living sacrifice on Francois's behalf, and that therefore she 
had a right to exact from him certain pledges as to his future. 
In deciding to give herself up to Renaud, she proved her 
utter unseKishness and the great depth of her affection. Not 
affection for Renaud, she was too jMiinfully aware that between 
her and him there could be nothing of the kind. Basile had 
cautioned her against him, and said that if she became his 
wife he would only wreck her life and break her heart Al- 
though she knew quite well that Basile was consumed with 
jealousy and hated Renaud, and that in consequence he would 
not hesitate to depict him in the blackest colours, she, never- 
theless, had seen too much of Renaud's nature to be able to 
doubt that the Jester's accusation contained a very large 
measure of truth. For all that she knew, he might or might 
not be an impostor in the sense that Basile meant, but that 
he bore her not an atom of love she was perfectly convinced, 
so that his object in desiring her to become his wife was a 
base, mean, selfish, and sordid one ; and when a man is actu- 
ated by a motive so utterly contemptible, the woman who 
links her fate to his can ex|H'ct nothing but abject misery. 
She had frequently heard Renaud express his craving for 
wealth. She possessed a very considerable fortune, so that 
she did not deceive herself by even trying to suppose that he 
wished to p6ssess her for any other reason than as a means of 
obtaining control of her riches. 

With heavy heart she sought her foster-soni and found him 



150 BASILE THE JESTER 

scarcely less depressed than she was herself. The terribly 
tragic scene to which he had been a witness, and in which 
he had played a subordinate part, had made a deep impression 
upon him, and his youthful face wore such a despondent look 
that it gave him the appearance of being haggard and care- 
worn, and consequently much older than he really was. 

' Fran<;ois, I am going away/ she said, as she embraced him 
fervently. 

' It were better so/ he responded in choking accents, and 
not fully realizing the true meaning of her words. ' Here 
there is nothing but danger and sorrow, and thou, so gentle 
and sweet, art unfitted to live in an atmosphere of conspiracy 
and murder. Therefore thou dost well to seek for peace and 
comfort elsewhere.* 

She did not attempt to interrupt him, although she instantly 
saw that he was under a wrong impression. But when he 
had finished, she answered : 

' Ah, my beloved boy, thou dost not understand. It is not 
of my free will that I go, but by the stem comman(is of her 
Majesty the Queen.' 

' Thou art banished, dost mean to say ?' he cried in alarm. 

' Even so,' she replied. 

' Alas ! alas !' he moaned, covering his face with both his 
hands ; ' can it be possible that thou, who art all goodness, hast 
to suffer for my sins ?' 

' Thou hast been foolish,' she said, ' and my going may be 
indirectly attributable to thee, dear Francois. But I have no 
reproaches, only love for thee, and I fain would hope that my 
punishment will be thy gain, and that by unswerving fidelity 
to her Majesty thou wilt not only be able to mitigate her 
severity, but succeed in reinstating me in her Grace's favour.' 

' By Heaven, I will do so or perish !* he cried with passion ; 
but then suddenly remembering that his conduct had been 
such that in the event of the Queen coming back he could 
expect no mercy, he added sadly : ' Alas, 1 am forgetting 
that I am a culj)rit, and cannot escape from paying a heavy 
penalty.' 

'Culpable thou art, child,' she said tenderly, drawing his 
head to her bosom, and smoothing his curls back from his 
forehead ; ' but thy youth will excuse thee, and thy father 
has promised to save thee from any consequences of thy acts 
aQd d^^ds,' 



THE MOTHER LOVE 151 

My Tather !' crie<l Francois, Htarting up in disgust ; ' I will 
accept no favour from his hands. He is a treacherous knave !' 

' Shame on thee, boy !' cried Adrienne angrily. ' Thou art 
bis son, and art not justified in using such terms to the author 
of thy being. The son who respects not his parents can have 
respect for no one else.' 

Francois was abashed. Not but what in his own mind he 
was convinced that his father was treacherous, for liad he not 
counselled him to renew his connection with Lilian in spite of 
the Queen's command, and that counsel was the means of his 
having broken his pledge to the Queen and proved false to 
his allegiance. Knowing this, he would have had to have 
been a far duller youtli than he was, had he failed to infer 
from his father's conduct that that father had wilfully led him 
astray either to purposely bring him into disgrace or to serve 
some private interests. Between Henaud's professions and 
Itcnaud's acts the boy saw that there was a wide discrepancy, 
and that discrepancy could only be explained by describing it 
as treachery. But, nevertheless, Franijuis's quick perception 
enabled him to readily see that it were wiser far to keep his 
thoughts about Renaud to himself, for by giving expression to 
them, and in the absence of proof, he could not fail to pain 
Adrieime, for whom he bore the greatest affection. And so, 
in answer to her remark, he said meekly : 

' Thy rebuke is merited, sweet mother. I am hasty of 
speech, hut will try to cure the fault But tell me, now, 
where guest thou ? for where thou goest I go too.' 

' No, dear,' she said, ' thou hnst duties here ; solemn duties 
that thou must not evade. 7'he Queen needs faithful followers, 
and thou wilt be faithful evermore. Besitles, thou canst best 
serve thine own interests and mine by remaining.' 

' Thou art always right,' he answered, as he caressetl her, 
'and by thee will 1 be guided.* 

Adrit-nne was much comforted by this expression of his 
resolution, believing, of course, that he would adhere to It, 
and that the compact she had made with Renaud would save 
FranfOis from the Queen's anger. She did not tell the boy 
of this compact, for secretly nhe felt ashamed of it ; and, 
moreover, she deemed it highly probable that he would 
strongly oppose it, and so bring down Renaud's wrath upon 
his own head as well as on hers. 

■ To-morrow,' she said, ' I take my dc{>arture. Already 



m BASILE THE JESTER 

there are rumours that her Majesty is raising a powerful 
array, and will speedily return to punish those who have 
deceived her. Thou hast nothing to fear, for all thy father's 
influence will be exerted on thy behalf. For myself, it is 
imperative that I go. But thou shalt receive frequent news 
of my whereabouts, and we will meet again soon. Thy father 
will arrange that.' 

Her last words aroused some suspicion in Francois's mind, 
and he asked quickly : 

'Hast thou plac^ thyself in my father's power?' His 
manner and tone were sufficient to assure her that if he 
knew the facts he would oppose them, whatever the cost 
might be to himself, and therefore, as it was to save him that 
she was making the sacrifice, she endeavoured to allay his 
suspicion, and with a forced smile she answered : 

' No, dear, I have not placed myself in his power ; but 
knowing that it is to our advantage not to offend nim, I have 
sought his advice, and am willing to be guided by him.' 

Francois was not deceived by this specious statement. He 
would indeed have been blind during the past year^ if he had 
failed to see that Renaud had manifested a desire to marry 
Adrienne ; and he would have been no less obtuse if he h^d 
not gathered during those years, from many signs, that this 
desire was not reciprocated by her. But still he deemed it 
wise now, remembering what his own position was, not to 
mention either his fears or his suspicions, but he resolved to 
lose no time in endeavouring by some means or other to dis- 
cover what the connection was between Adrienne and his 
supposed father. He merely remarked, in answer to what 
she h^ad said, and laying great stress upon his words : 

' For my sake, good mother, an thou lovest me, do nothing 
in haste.' 

' I will not,' she said, gathering something of his meaning. 
Then, making arrangements to see him on the morrow, she 
embraced him warmly, and went away to prepare for her 
departure. 



THE JESTER MAKES A REVELATION 15.S 



CHAPTER XXX. 

THE JESTER MAKES A REVELATION. 

Adrienne resolved, though the resolve cost her many a bitter 
pang, that she would not only keep secret from Basile the 
fact that she had promised Renaud to become his wife, but to 
leave the palace without seeing the poor Jester again. She 
dare not trust herself to have an interview with him ; and 
thinking that his feeling for her would soon die when she had 
gone, she considered it wise so far as she was concerned, and 
positive kindness to him, to avoid a further meeting. 

This, then, was her intent, but human plans and actions do 
hot always take the bent that people wish them to have. 
They more often than not seem directed by fate or destiny, 
whatever one likes to call it, which is quite beyond human 
control. Adrienne was to prove the truth of this, for in her 
calculations she overlooked one important factor, and that 
factor was Francois. The lad pondered deeply upon the 
words his foster-mother had used, and the more he pondered 
the more the significance of the words struck him. 

If she had placed herself under Renaud's guidance, what 
did it mean if it did not mean that he had gained an in- 
fluence over her ? Francois was not ignorant of the craving 
Renaud had for wealth, and the lad was shrewd enough to 
guess that his supposed father aimed at possessing Adrienne's 
fortune. If Adrienne had loved him, that would have been 
another thing ; but Francois knew differently, and that his 
foster-mother had a positive aversion to Renaud. 

'1 must save Adrienne,' he said to himself; but having said 
it, he saw not how to go beyond the saying, until, feelin;^ in 
a quandary and very unhappy, he bethought him in his 
dilemma of Basile the Jester. 

From his coming to the Court on that memorable day when 
his unfortunate mother had been crushed to death beneath 
the hoofs of a horse, on the occasion of the marriage of the 
Dauphin of France, up to the present, Francois had found in 
Basile something more than a friend. In his childhood the 
buffoon amused him, played with him, rode him on his broad 
shoulders, and manifested a watchful and loving regard for 
him. That regard had never altered, and the lad had come 



154 BASILE THE JESTER 

to look upon Ba^e as his confidant and adviser, and went to 
him wlienever he wu in trouble. Now, there was another 
remarkable circumstance wliich had not failed to impress 
Franfois and often set him wondering, and it was that Ba^ile 
always evinced a strange dislike for Renaud, and always re- 
ferred to him with manifest feelings of bitterness and disgust. 
Much struck with this, he one day asked Basile, ' Dost thou 
not hke my father ?' 

And the Jester had answered, with suppressed passion dis- 
playing itself in his flashing eyes and quivering lips : ' If thou 
meanest Renaud — no. He is a sort of human wolf. He preys 
upon his fellow men and women in order to gratify his own 
insatiable greed." 

'Thou hast perhaps suffere<l injury at his hands?' Francois 
had remarked, noticing how bitterly the Jester spoke. 

'Ay, boy,' was the reply, 'a deadly injury.* 

Francois thereupon sought to leam the nature of the injury, 
but Basile would tell him nothing, merely saying that some 
day perhaps he would leam. 

Francois never again referred to the subject, being content 
to wait for what time might bring forth. Nor was it at alt 
unnatural that the youth's aRections should incline rather to 
Basile than to Renaud ; for the latter always seemed so selfish 
and harsh, while the Jester was always as gentle and kindly 
as he was unselfish. The fool, in fact, had been the boy's 
playmate and companion, and knowing nothing whatever 
about Basite's feelings for Adrieone, Francois in his difficulty 
went to him now. 

The Jester had been suffering from an illness during several 
days, and, in consequence, had been confined to his lodgings, 
and therefore had seen nothing of the stirring events conse- 
quent on Rizzio's murder, though, of course, he had heard of 
them from a variety of sources. 

He welcomed Frani^is with every manifestation of delight, 
and in compUance with his request, Francis gave him all the 
detaib of the ghastly drama that had been enacted in her 
Majesty's chaml>er. 

It has been said that the youth was in the habit of making 
the Jester his confidant in most things, but there was one 
thing he had kept from him; and that thing was his connec- 
tion with Lilian. His motive for keeping this back was a 
veiy strong one. Basile was a staunch, in fact, a fanatical, 



THE JCSTEtl MAKES A REVELATION 155 

Cntholic, and the la<l was quite sure that he would have 
counselled him very strongly to avoid the fair dauj^hter of the 
fanatical Bomcester. And, feeling so sure of this, Francois 
had kept his wooing a secret from his friend. But now, in 
his great trouble, the lad told Basile everything, even to the 
[tart he had played in the conspiracy. 

The Jester listened in evident pain, and his face betrayed 
how deeply he was affected. 

' And her Majesty knows all this f he exclaimed, with great 
anxiety, when the recital was finished. 

'Her Majesty knows that 1 haven't kept faith with her,' 
Francis answered, with some prevarication. 

' Alas, Francois ! thou hast brought thyself into grave con- 
dition, and much I fear me thou wilt Buffer severely,' said 
Basile, evidently distressed. 

' I have been veiy foolish, I own,' answered Francis, ' but I 
would fain hope that my offence is not so rank that it cannot 
be forgiven. Leastways, my father says that be can gain the 
Queen's clemency.' 

'Says he so I*' exclaimed the Jester, with a tcowL 

•Ay.- 

' An he does that 1 may forgive him much,' Basile remarked 
thoughtfully. 'But I have my doubta,' he added. 'If I 
know aught of Renaud, and methinks I do, he bean thee 
little of a father's love.' 

' So thou hast always maintained,' Francois remarked. 

' Hast thou not proved it ?' Basile asked quickly. 

'Truth to tell, I have.' 

'So then I am not deceived,' said Basile, with a bitter smile. 
'Still, he hath promised to screen thee from the anger of the 
Queen, and that is something to be thankful for.* 

' He has not promised me in person, but dear Mademoi- 
■elle Adrienne, my good foster-mother, has won hii in- 
fluence.' 

'Thy foster-mother!' cried Basile in a raspy voice, and 
growing Bud<lenly pale. ' How has she won his influence ? 
Tell me quick I' 

' It is of that I came to speak,' FnuifOis said, not failing to 
notice Basilc's eagerness. ' Thou art aware, mayhap, that my 
father desires to gain Adrienne for his wife ?' 

' Well, well,' exclaimed the Jester with great imjiatience ; 
'has she accepted him?* 



156 BASILE THE JESTER 

' I know not, by my faith ; but there is something atween 
them. Tell me, Basile, dost think she loves him ?' 

The Jester's face was blooilless, and he was so agitated that 
for some moments he could not speak. Then, with {>assionate 
fierceness that startled the boy, he exclaimed : 

' Dost the lamb love the wolf that rends it ? Thy foster- 
mother hates Renaud !' 

' How know you that ?' asked the boy quickly, and in some 
surprise. 

' By a hundred things. But there, there, tell me what said 
she. Has she told thee anything }' 

* Ay. To-morrow she leaves, by the Queen's order, for she, 
too, hath fallen into disgrace.' 

The Jester pressed his hand to his forehead and moaned. 
* Go — ^go on ; tell me more,' he said in a voice of bitter 
despair. 

Fran9ois was amazed. Then, as a thought flashed through 
his brain, he asked bluntly : 

' Basile, dost thou love my foster-mother ?' 

' Seek not to know now, boy,' Basile answered, with a great 
sigh. ' But thou hast lefl something untold. Let me hear it.' 

' It is this, Basile. Good Adrienne, ever mindful of wicked 
me, came to my chamber to bid me not despair, since my 
father had pledged himself to get the Queen's pardon.' 

' Said she so } Tell me — tell me, an thou canst, the very 
words in which she spoke.' 

'Ay. She said that her going away was indirectly attri- 
butable to me, but she had no reproaches, only love.' 

* The saints love her !* Basile murmured wiUi great fervour. 
' I asked her if she had placed herself in my father's power.' 
' And what said she to that ?' exclaimed the Jester. 

' Her answer was, an my memory serves me, these very 
words : " I have not placed myself in his power ; but knowing 
that it is to our advantage not to offend him, I have sought his 
advice, and am willing to place myself under his guidance." ' 

Basile groaned. 

'There is treachery at work,' he said. Then, with pas- 
sionate energy, he seized Fran9ois's hand, and in a half-com- 
manding, half-supplicating tone he exclaimed : ' Boy, thou 
hast little love for Renaud, and much for Adrienne, who hast 
given thee a mother s love and tenderness. For thy sake she 
would sell herself body and soul. But it must not be — it 



•DOES LIGHT BREAK IN UPON THEE NOW?* 157 

must not be. We should be base, eowanlly dojp an we per- 
mitted it. Better tliat Renaud should dic—vf, ■ hundredfold 
better!' 

' But dost thou forget, Buile,' uid Francois, 'that Renaud 
is my father i' 

The Jester seemed to be undergoing a process of mental 
torture, and his fnce betmyed the keenness of hii suffering. 
He turned away for some moments as if he could not quite 
make up his mind what to do. Then, with sudden energy, 
he faced Francis again, and cried in a voice broken with 
emotion : 

' I will save thee and her, though my life may pay the 
penalty. And know this now, for it is time you learned the 
truth— PAi% Benamd it «ol t)y father f 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

*DOtl UOHT BREAK IN UPON THBK NOW?* 

Francis fairly reeled at this revelation, and it explained to 
him many things that had hitherto been as mysteries. So 
great was his amazement that at first he could only gasp out : 
'Not my father?' 

' No. 'Thou art amazed, and well thou mayst he ; yet what 
I have now made known to thee is Heaven's truth.' 

' But — but say, Basile, how long hast thou known this f 
' For many a long year. Ever since he came to the palace 
In Paris.' 

' And why hast thou kept the matter secret ?' 
' Ah, the knowledge of tliat thou must forego, at least for 
the present.' 

' But wherefore ?' the boy asked with pained eag(-mes.<L 
' There are strong reasons, and not the least of them, ninybe, 
is thine own welfare and thine own safety. Thou host been 
deceived for years, but be deceived no longer. It can be no 
wrench to thy affection to suddenly find that he whom thou 
hast been taught to call by the name of father has no claim 
upon thee. For, an I read thee right, thou hast little love 
for him, and 1 will stake my {loor soul that he has none for 
thee.' 

' I am bewildered and staggered/ laid Francois thought- 



158 BASILE THE JESTER 

full J, 'but somehow not disappointed. Between me and Renand 
there has been little in common. But, Basile, an thou lovest 
me, tell me, an thou canst do so, who if m v father ?' 

' Listen, boy,' said the Jester, speaking solemnly and slowly, 
as though fully impressed with a consciousness of the import 
of the question. ' If thou hast any regard for thy peace of 
mind, seek not to know.' 

' Thou hast cognizance of my father, then ?* 

'I have.' 

' Then, wherefore dost thou not place me in possession of 
the knowledge }' said Fran9ois, in evident distress. 

' Because I love thee.' 

' That surely is a poor reason.' 

' Nay, it is an all-potent one. And it is for thy good that 
I withhold the information.' 

' By the Mass, Basile, but thou art giving me a riddle that 
I find no answer for. Nay, an it were merely for the gratifica- 
tion of my curiosity thou shouldst tell me, but there is a more 
cogent reason than that I did not grow like a weed. I am 
my father's son. Thou hast vowed solemnly that Renaud is 
not my father, and I believe it ; but who is my father ^ 

' Again I say thou shalt not know,' said Basile with force 
«ind energy. 

' Shalt not know ?' 

' Ay, those were my words.' 

'Basile,' cried Francois, with suppressed irritation, 'an I 
loved thee not as I do, I would try to wring the secret from 
thee' 

' And thou wouldst fail,' answered the Jester sternly. 

' Well, as thou wilt,' said the lad, shrugging his shoulders. 
' But mayhap an I knew him he would he ashamed of me or 
I of him,' he added with covert spitefulness. 

'Therein art thou right. Thou wouldst be ashamed of 
him,' Basile said. 

' He is a knave, mayhap,' remarked Fran9ois, feeling a little 
piqued at the Jester's reticence. 

' Mayhap so,' was the answer. 

' Or it might hap that he is a fool,' Fran9ois added with 
a sneer upon his handsome face. 

' Verily he may be a fool,' said Basile in reply, ' but let us 
not waste time in these useless quibbles. I have told thee a 
startling truth, that Renaud is not thy father. Thou owest 



•DOES LIGHT BREAK IN UPON THEE NOWf 159 

him no duty uid no «]legUnce ; uid henceforth thou canst 
think of him with the scom he merits. Some dtty, and that 
day may come soon, 1 will give thee some particulars of thy 
parents. Bat now my lips are sealed.' 

Although Francis was very naturally burning to know the 
secret of his birth, for it was obvious there was some mystery 
about it, he very wisely determined to refrain from question- 
ing Basile further then. But while in this respect he felt dis- 
appointed and even irritated, on the other hand he rejoiced 
exceedingly that between him and Renaud there was no tie. 
It was an exceeding great puczle to him why Renaud should 
have wanted to claim him for his son, while his own father 
had apjiarently disowned him. He had long regarded Renaud, 
even while having no suspicion that he was not his parent, 
with feelings very far from those which a son usually bears. 
Renaud himself, by hii selfishness and unconcealed deceit, had 
alienated the boy's affection, so that now when he discovered 
that he was not his son he was elated in a way that he had 
not been for a long time, and he experienced a sense of intense 
bitterness mingled with disgust 

' Thou hast done me a great service, good Basile,' he said, 
' since thou hast relieved me of the necessity of any longer 
doing outrage to my feelings by professing to have love for a 
man towards whom I see full well now I have borne only 
hatred. Master Renaud has played some cunning game ; but 
now that I know him for a knave, he will play his game no 
longer with me.' 

' "rhat is well said,* answered the Jester ; • but have caution, 
for Renaud is cunning as the fox, as deadly as the serpent. 
It was only by claiming thee aa his son that he was enabled to 
rome to the court Un the day that the Queen was married 
to the Dauphin of P'rance, tliy poor mother was killed by an 
accident' 

' So much have I learnt from Adrienne,' said Francis sadly, 
as the Jester paused as if some emotion had overcome him. 
But he recovered himself, and went on : 

'On that day Renaud discovered by some chance the story 
of thy birth, and coming to the court he avowed himself the 
husband of the woman who had been killed, and consetiuently 
thy father. I'he dear Queen retained him, and gave thee into 
the charge of Adrienne de Bois^ Does light break in ujion 
thee now f 



160 BASILE THE JESTER 

'Ay, Basile, in God's good name^ I vow it does/ cried 
Fran9ois in great distress, as he clearly recognised how un- 
grateful he had been to the Queen. ' And that same light 
reveals to me, until I quiver with pain, that her Majesty has 
done much for me, while I have repaid the debt with traitorous 
conduct' 

'The future lies before thee,' Basile remarked with great 
earnestness ; ' go thy ways into it with honest heart and stem 
resolution to be faithful to the Queen's Majesty, and some day 
thou mayest succeed in bringing back her regard for thee. 
But now thou hast to fear her wrath, an she returns, as who 
can doubt she will ? She has been betrayed and wronged, and 
those who have done this thing will wither before the scorch- 
ing fires of her just anger. Sweet Adrienne de Bois must 
know and think that thou art in sore straits, or never would 
she have offered to sacrifice herself by accepting Renaud's 
guidance in order that thou might be saved. Adrienne de 
Bois shall make no such sacrifice. Though, should she fail to 
keep her word to him, Renaud's spite w^ill expend itself on 
thee ; and mark me well, he would be glad to see thee fall. 
But thou and Adrienne must foil him by flight' 

' By flight ?' 

' Ay. It is the only way.' 

' But what of Adrienne } Will she consent ?' Francois 
queried in some alarm. 

'I think she will. Go thou to her and say nothing to 
her but this, that I, Basile, crave her, by the holy saints, to 
see me for a brief space. An she would save my life, bid her 
do this. And stay, thou wilt want gold on thy journey.' 
Weak from his illness, and unsteady through excitement, he 
tottered across the a|>artment, opened a drawer, and took 
therefrom a small bag of money. * Nay, take it !' he cried 
piteously, as Francois at first refused it ' What care J for 
money ? Thy life and her life are at stake. Get thee to 
England, and when thou hast found a refuge send me letters 
that I may know where thou art, and give thee in return in- 
formation of myself. As soon as it has grown dark thou must 
away with Adrienne, and be far on thy journey before thy 
flight is known- I will see that thou hast horses. Geoffrey, 
the tapster, in the Market-place, is a very worthy friend of 
mine, and is to be trusted, for I have done him some service. 
Thitlier thou and Adrienne shall go with a sign from me, and 



HIDEOUS JOY OF TRIUMPHANT MALICE iGl 

lie will give thee horses and start thee on thy journey. Now, 
get thee to Adrienne quick, and fail not to prevail on her to 
see me.* 

He had spoken very rapidly and excitedly, f^ving Fran^'ois 
no chance of making any remark, but fairly pushed him out of 
the room, and when he had gone the sick and jaded Jester 
shot the bolt of his door, and, throwing himself on his pallet, 
wept like a tired child. 



CHAITER XXXII. 

WITH IIIDEOl'S JOY OF TRIUMPHANT MAUCC 

Francois's brain was all in a whirL The exciting events of 
the hist few days were quite enough to make any man be- 
wildered, but, in addition to these, the youth had just heard 
a startling revelation which closely concerned himself. It had 
been mad€$ so suddenly and unex|)ectedly that his breath was 
fairly taken away, and his thoughts were confused and tangled. 
But, nevertheless, he had very clearly gathered from the plan 
that Hasile had hastily shadowed forth that it offered safety 
for himself and Adrienne, and so, in compliance with the 
Jester's request, he hurried to her to deliver his message. She 
received it with mingled feelings. She was pleased and dis- 
pleased. Pleased because it suggested to her a means of escape 
from an (kIious connection — for what else could a marriage with 
Renaud have been ? and she was displeased because she was 
not quite sure whether it would really be to Francois's interest 
to go away ; in the Queen's sight such a course might only 
tend to magnify his fault, and make her Majesty's {)ardon 
more difficult to obtain. 

Franrois, noticing that she wavered, decided her by saying 
verj* emphatically : 

' Know this, sweet mother, I will die before I will be be- 
holden to Renaud for one straw's worth of favour. And MNmer 
than that thou shouldst become his victim, I — I would kill 
him. or may I never more break bread !' 

' Hush !' she said reprovingly. ' Such threats do not become 
thee. He is thy father.* 

' He is no ' Francois began, and was going to say, ' He is 

no father of mine.' But he suddenly checked himself, thinking 

n 



162 BASILE THE JESTER 

that the moment and circumstances were not opportune to 
tell Adrienne that he himself was a nonentity, a nameless 
notliing ; a waif of shame it might be. He was a proud 
boy, and the hot blood surged to his temples at the thought, 
so he took Adrienne's reproach meekly, and held his peace. 
Afler some struggling with herself, she at last decided 
to grant Basile's request and see him. But then came the 
question. How was it to be done.^ Intrigue and suspicion 
reigned supreme in the place, and everyone was a spy on 
everyone else's movements. The Queen's friends were in the 
majority, and, cat-like, they watched for the smallest sign that 
should indicate what was going on amongst her enemies. To 
stir in what seemed to be a secret or mysterious manner was 
sufficient not only to bring one's self under suspicion, but to run 
the risk of instant arrest, and probably gross ill treatment, if 
not assassination. Men's passions were inflamed, and their 
blood ran hot, and those who were staunch to her Majesty were 
nervously restless, and burning to avenge the wrongs and the 
insults that had been put upon her. About a dozen of these 
friends, including Philippe Renaud, had formed themselves 
into a committee, and had assumed control of affairs in the 
palace for the time being. They had issued the most stringent 
orders, and threatened drastic measures if these orders were 
not complied with ; and as showing the lengths to which they 
were prepared to resort, they had summarily executed a soldier 
for laxity of duty while on guard. Every entrance and exit 
was strictly watched, and a cordon of trusty sentries was drawn 
round the palace. 

Now, Adrienne was well aware of all this, she saw how 
imperatively necessary caution was, though she would have 
been more deeply impressed with this idea had she been aware 
that she was being specially watched on behalf of Renaud. 

Notwithstanding; she had promised to become his wife, he 
still entertained doubts about her, and was morbidly suspicious 
of his old enemy, Basile the Jester. He hated the man with 
an intensity of hatred that is indescribable, and knowing that 
Basile could at any moment unmask him, he felt that this was 
an opportunity not to be missed for ridding himself of this 
standing menace once and for all. And so he resolved to 
himself that if he could only get the shadow of an excuse for 
impeaching Basile as a traitor, and a danger to the peace of 
the palace, he would have him hanged instantly, and with a 



HIDEOUS JOY OF TRIUMPHANT MALICE l6S 

view to this end he had deputed his creature Bastian to watch 
Adrienne and Basile with never-ceasing vigilance. 

Adrienne thought over many schemes for ohtaining an 
Interview with Basile, but it seemed to her that there was not 
a spot in all the palace where she could see him with safety 
save in her own chamber. Consequently, she despatched a 
message to him to that effect by Francis, with instructions that 
he was to use the utmost caution. A little later in the day 
the Jester stole fixtm his quarters and made his way stealthily 
to Adrienne 's room, but not, unfortunately, without having been 
seen by the lynx eyes of Bastian the page, who hurried off to 
inform his master that Basile had been admitted to Adrienne's 
private chamber. 

' I have gratified thy desire to see me, Basile,' she said 
nervously ; ' but in doing this I mm running great risk. There- 
fore, it is well that thou shouldst be brief.' 

He knelt on one knee, took her hand and kissed it. Then 
rising, stood before her with bowed head, and made answer : 
' Mademoiselle Adrienne, I am thy slave. Thou art in peril, 
and I, thy slave, will save thee. Kenaud hath cast his evil 
shadow over thee, and it were better far, ay, infinitely better, 
that thou shouldst be wrapped in the shadow of Satan. 
Adrienne, I caution thee to avoid Philippe Renaud as thou 
wouldst the Black Death.' 

'Be not tedious, good Basile, but to the point,' said Adrienne 
nervously. 

'Ah, Mademoiselle Adrienne, pity me,' Basile murmured 
pathetically, inferring from her words that she was angry with 
him and inclined to favour his rival. She was moved, and 
feeling sorry for having wounded him by a lightly spoken 
remark, said tenderly : 

' Basile, thou hast my pity, if that is what thou desirest. 
Indeed thou hast more than that : thou hast my true regard.' 

He seised her hand, and, bending towatds her in an attitude 
of expectancy and intense eagerness, he peered into her half- 
averted face, and exclaimed . 

' Have I thy love also f 

She was much distressed. She did not want to commit 
herself on the one hand, nor to wound his feelings on the 
other ; and so, gently drawing back, she said sof\ly : 

' Thou hast won my admiration, and some day, mayhap, I will 
prove that I am not ungratefuL' 



164 BASILE THE JESTER 

He was not quite satisfied with the answer^ and yet the 
admission that he had won her admiration was much to a man 
who loved as ardently as he did. He knew that it was no 
time for bandying words. He loved this woman, and whether 
she did or would love him was not the point then. He 
wished to prevent her falling a prey to Renaud, and to place 
her and Francois in safety until happier times dawned. So 
he said : 

'Thy admiration. Mademoiselle Adrienne, is much to be 
thankful for. Thy love I will pray may come. But now listen. 
Thou must foil Renaud, and Francois must place the barrier o 
distance between himself and the angered Queen. Thou wilt 
go with him. He will be a protector for thee, and thou wilt 
watch over him. In the market-place dwells one Geoffrey, a 
tapster. He is a worthy man, and has had some service from 
me. His house beareth the sigh of Ye Lion. I will to him 
at once, and order that at nine of the clock to-night he hath 
horses ready to carry thee and Francois to England. Thou 
must make all speed to cross the border, and when thou art 
in safety Francois will send me information.' 

'And about thyself.^* cried Adrienne, displaying great 
anxiety, which did not escape Basile's notice. 

' Thou art kind to think of me,' he said, with a pleased ex- 
pression. ' But have no fear, I shall be safe ; and when I 
know where thou art I will send thee news.' 

Adrienne heard his proposition with a sense of relief and 
joy, for it offered her the means of escaping from Renaud, 
and as long as Francois was with her she knew that he would 
be safe. 

' I place myself in thy hands,' she said. 

' Good !' he answered. ' Hold thyself in readiness. I will 
make preparations for thy flight, and at the hour of nine I 
will come to thy chamber and conduct thee out of the palace. 
Should I not be able to go with thee to Ye Lion, thou wilt 
make thy way thither with all speed. For the rest, God guide 
thee and protect thee. Till to-night, farewell.* 

She was greatly moved by his tender solicitude, and 
stretched forth her hand to him. He kissed it. Then looking 
into her eyes, and seeing encouragement there, he yielded to 
an impulse, and for the first time touched her lips with his. 

She offered no resistance, and displayed no surprise. Then 
he released her, and cautiously she opened the door to allow 



HOW THE LAMB DECEIVED THE WOLF l65 

him to depiirt. But no sooner had she done so than she 
uttered a shrill crj' of despair, for facing her was Renaud, his 
face lighted up with the hideous joy of triumphant malice, 
and behind him were a number of armed men. 



CHAPTER XXXHL 

HOW THE UHB DECEIVED THE WOLF. 

The sudden shock to Adrienne's nerves on beholding Renaud 
alniOHt caused her to faint, but by a desperate effort she 
controlled herself, thou;];h her heart nearly came to a stand- 
still ns she recognised that she and Basile had been caught in 
A trap. Renaud saw her distress, and he absolutely rejoiced 
thereat. 

' So, Mademoiselle Adrienne,' he said, with an ironical 
sneer, ' this is the way you respect me and regard your honour.' 
Then, turning to the men, he said sternly: 'Soldiers, seise 
that dog !' meaning Basile. Instantly four men-at-arms 
stcppctl forwanl and laid their hands on the Jester. He 
olTcrcd no resistance ; but stood erect, proudly defiant and 
scornful. He knew that resistance would be madness. In 
fact, it would have been playing into the hands of his enemy, 
who would have been glad of an excuse to order his men to 
kill him. 

Adrienne, however, could not remain passive while this was 
going im, and burning with indignation at the outrage, for so 
she regarded it, she exclaimed : 

' Monsieur Renaud, thou art exceeding thy duty, and taking 
wprni thyself a power to which thou hast no claim ! Release 
that man, for thou hast no warrant to arrest him !' 

' Oh, oh '■' cried Renaud, with a coarse laugh, ' thou art 
strangely in error, and thy mad passion for this human <]og 
ha.s blinded thee to common-sense. Thou knowest well that 
thou thyself hast the Queen's crders to quit her palace. In 
what way thou hast offended the Queen's majesty I know not ; 
but thou hast now brought thyself under the gravest susjiicion 
in consenting to hold private interviews with this arrant knave. 
The times are too full of danger, and plots against her Majesty's 

r;aee are too rife to allow such things to pass unnoticed. Nay, 
should be wanting in loyal duty to my lOTereign an I re- 



166 BASILE THE JESTER 

mained indifferent to this conduct I know not what measure 
of guilt may be thine ; that shall be discovered later. But I 
do know that this knave is dangerous to the Queen's happiness, 
and is plotting against her. Remove him, men, and allow him 
not to escape on the peril of your lives. An he shows the 
slightest resistance cleave him to the ground, for vermin were 
better dead than living/ 

Adrienne was almost stunned, and stood in a dased way 
staring at Renaud. The Jester could not remain unmoved or 
unconcerned, for he knew only too well that his fate trembled 
in the balance. Although his hopes seemed wrecked, and 
all that he longed for utterly beyond his reach now, he did 
not despair altogether. That Renaud would attempt to have 
him secretly assassinated he felt perfectly sure, but still, he 
thought that he might yet succeed in baffling his inveterate 
foe. To have parleyed would have been utterly useless, 
to have threatened no less so, and so he wisely held his 
peace ; but the workings of his white face told the agony he 
was enduring, and as he was roughly dragged away he cast 
a pitiful and despairing look at the woman he loved dearer 
than life. 

When he had gone, Renaud bade the rest of the soldiers 
retire. Then he closed the door and was alone with Adrienne. 
This aroused her to a sense of her terrible position. All 
seemed lost, and yet she resolved to die and to see those she 
loved die, rather than this man should triumph. 

' Coward !' she hissed. ' Now art thou revealed in all thy 
baseness!' 

' Mademoiselle Adrienne,' he answered sternly, ' such 
language sounds ill on thy tongue. I have long suspected 
that thou wert intriguing with the villain Basile, and this day 
has given me ample proof. He has ever stood between me 
and thee. Therefore he is my enemy and my rival, and I 
thank Heaven that at last I can deprive him of his sting and 
render him harmless.' 

' Thou wouldst not dare to injure a hair of his head !' she 
cried with startling anger. 

' Would not dare !' he exclaimed, with a cynical laugh. 
' And wherefore would I not dare. Mademoiselle Adrienne Y 

' Because an thou injured him a terrible retribution would 
surely overtake thee. Heaven would never let thee escape.* 

He laughed mockingly as he replied : 



HOW THE LAMB DECEIVED THE WOLF i67 

• I have no fear of Heaven's retribution since I have justice 
on my side. But even an it is otherwise let the retribution 
fall. I will triumph now, though I lose later. Thy partiality 
and preference for Basile serve but to render his fate the more 
sure ; for it is man's nature to slay his enemies when he can, 
and a lover loses no chance of outwitting his rivaL Therefore, 
Basile being at last in my power, his hours are numbered. 
Nay, start not, lady. It is disagreeable news to thee, but 
thou must bear with it Thou hast promised to become my 
wife, and thou shalt keep that promise.' 

' Never !' she hissed fierily. 

' Do not excite thyself, dear Adrienne,' he said with exasper- 
ating coolness. 'Thou hast a fit of the choler now, but it will 
won pass away, and thy good sense will then show thee in 
which direction thy interests lie. Till thou art better I am 
content to wait ; but a wilful woman must be watched, and 1 
will, therefore, take care that thou dost not commit thyself to 
any such foolish position again as that in which I have now 
found thee. To-morrow I will provide lodgings for thee, and 
thou shalt be placed in safe keeping. It is good for thee that 
this should be so. For a woman who knows not how to )>rotect 
her honour must have it protected for her.' 

Adrienne was burning with indignatitm and almost choking 
with rage at the villain's cool insolence. But before she could 
make reply to him the door opened and Francis entered. He 
was approaching, when he saw Renaud and the soldierv planted 
outside of his foster-mother's door. Knowing too well the 
import of this he prudently beat a retreat, but ensconced 
himself behind a large statue that stood in a niche, and from 
whence he commanded a view of the corridor. He saw Basile 
dragged away and the rest of the soldiere depart, and then, 
knowing that Adrienne and Renaud were alone, he determined 
to appear on the scene and learn what was going on. 

Adrienne uttered a little cry of relief when he entered, and 
he exchanged a signiliCBnt glance with her. Renaud frowned, 
and was evidently disconcerted by the lad'a unexpected 
entrance, and he asked sharply : 

' What is thy business here, boy ?' 

' Nay, good father, be not angry,' Francis answered with 
assumed humility and rcs[M-ct. ' I came but to see my foster- 
mother, and rx[>ected not to find thee here. Sorry 1 am that 
I have Intruded ; but an thou wilt pardon me I would express 



168 BASILE THE JESTER 

a hope that thy wooing goes well, for is it not fitting that my 
dear father and she who has been a mother to me should be 
united ?* 

Adrienne gathered the meaning of Francois's words, and 
hope revived within her breast. While Renaud was quite 
deceived by the youth's apparent sincerity, and never dreaming, 
of course, that he was aware that there was no relationship 
between them, it suddenly occurred to him that instead of 
trying to terrify Adrienne into compliance with his wishes, 
he might cajole her, and make Francois an instrument to 
this end. 

' By the rood,' he exclaimed, 'but thou hast rare intelligence, 
and I am proud of thee ! Thou hast heard, Adrienne, what 
thy foster-son's opinions are ?' 

' I have,' she stammered, eyeing Francis askance. 

' Well,' said Renaud expectantly, ' and has he weight with 
thee?* 

' An I thought he was sincere in his wish he might have 
weight,' she answered with assumed hesitancy. 

' Nay, good mother,' cried the lad, ' canst thou doubt me ? 
An I had known before that my father was really anxious to 
win thee, I should long ago have espoused his cause.' 

' It were better for thee, perhaps, that I did not wed him,' 
Adrienne murmured, with bowed head and an appearance of 
being bashfully confused. 

' Better for me !' cried the boy, with a laugh of scorn, 
simulated of course. ' By the Virgin, sweet mother, thou art 
joking grimly. It were better for me, ten hundred thousand 
times, that thou shouldst be my father's wife. Thou lovest 
me and he loves me, and your loves conjoined and your 
interests linked will of a surety be better for me. Since it is 
clear that an you remain asunder my affection will be divided, 
and I must, of a necessity, incline more to the one side than 
the other.' 

' By St. Agnes, but thou art a worthy son !' cried Renaud 
delightedly. ' Adrienne, what say est thou now ? 

' I know not what to say,' she murmured, feeling that it was 
not wise to show too ready an acquiescence lest Renaud's 
suspicion should be aroused. 

'Sire,' Francois said, 'an thou wouldst leave my good 
mother to me, I warrant me 1 bring her to thy side ; for I 
vow that I devoutly desire to see you united.' 



HOW THE LAMB DECEIVED THE WOLF I69 

Rensud appeared to besitAte for a moment or two, and he 
directed a piercing gase to first one and then the other, but 
in neither face was there a sign of collusion or deception. 
In fact, Adrienne appeared faint and ill, and she begged 
piteously to be left alone, in order that she might compose 
herself, and recover from the fright into which events had 
thrown her. ^^'hiIe Francis, knowing how much was at 
stake, and how great a knave Benaud was, met his gaxe 
fearlessly, and succeeded in completely throwing him off his 

' I will trust thee,' said Renaud at last, ' but come now 
to ray chamber, for I would have further speech with thee, 
and Adrienne will do well to woo sleep, for she bath a tired 
look.' He approached close to her, and, lowering hia voice, 
said : ' Thou wouldst do well to listen to Francois. To-morrow 
I wilt take thee to lodgings. In the meantime com]x»e thy- 
self." 

He withdrew, followed by Francis, who exchanged signifi- 
cant looks with Adrienne, who doubted not that be liad some 
plan in his mind whereby he hoped to foil the machinations 
of Renaud. 



CHAPTER xxxnr. 

' AN t AM NOT WITLXM I HAW " FOX " WRTT LARGE UPON HIS BROW.' 

Renaud went direct to his room, accompanied by Francois. 
I'hey found a soldier waiting at the door. The man made a 
salute as Renaud came up, and said : 

' I have been waiting your honour's coming. An it please 
you we would have orders for the disposal of our prisoner.* 

' Hast thou stowed him well ?' asked Renaud. 

'Ay, by the Mass we have. He is lodged in the Stone 
Chest' 

Renaud smiled. 'That is good,' he said. 'Thou sbalt 
receive warrant to-night for his further disjiosal. Go.' I'he 
man was turning away, when Renaud cried out, as if a new 
idea had struck him. 'Tell me? hast thou a good guard, 
capfain ?' 

' Itej'ond doubt, your honour.' 

' See to it,' said Renaud significantly, ' that thou art vigilant 
and faithful. Thou maycst go now,' 



iro BASILE THE JESTER 

The man took his departure. The conversation had not 
been lost on Francois. He knew that the ' Stone Chest ' was 
a very strong cell, built in one of the flanking towers of tlie 
wall that surrounded the grounds ; and that the prisoner 
referred to was Basile. 

Renaud and Francois entered the room. Bastian, the page, 
was stretched out on a wooden bench that occupied the recess 
of the bay-window. He was fast asleep. 

'Thy servant, sire, is a faithful dog,' Francis remarked 
ironically, as he glanced at the sleeping page. 

' Faithful and fond,' answered Renaud. ' Therein might my 
son take copy.' 

' I 3rield not to Bastian, father, in my devotion to thee,' said 
Fnuifois, laying emphasis on his words in order to give them 
more effect 

Renaud placed his band on the lad's head, and looking into 
his eyes, remarked : 

'Thatisabravespeech,an I could believe it were sincere ' 

' Wherefore dost thou doubt, sire ?' 

' I know not- But listen ; an thou wert staunch to me, we 
two might gain wealth, power, place.' 

' I am thy son,' said Francis, inwardly shrinking a little at 
the hypocritital part he was compelled to play. 

'And I am thy father,' answered Renaud. 'Father and 
son should be united.' 

' And am I not united to thee ? the boy asked. 

' 1 fain would hope so.' 

■Put me to the test' 

Renaud suddenly became very thoughtful, and he walked 
up and down the room for a few minutes, during which 
Francois noticed that Ba.stian opened his eyes, but instantly 
closed them again. Renaud stopped abruptly, and facing 
Fran9ois, said : 

' I will give thee a test Thou shalt kill Basile the Jester.' 

Francois started visibly, and all the colour fled from his 
face. With a desperate effort, however, he recovered himself, 
and forcing a smile, made answer : 

' Sire, that is a grim jest' 

' By my faith it is no jest, but grim earnest,' said Renaud 
with warmth. 

'Then, sire,' said Francois proudly, 'I shall refuse the test' 

•Why?" This sharply and sternly. 



'I SAW "FOX" WRIT UPON HIS BROW' l7l 

' For the reason that I am no assassin. For such work it is 
better that thou shouldst hire a cut-throat' 

A cold smile played round Renaud'a mouth, and there was 
a sinister expression in his eyes as he remarked : 

' Thou art right, hoy. Let the subject pass. But I'll give 
thee another test Persuade thy foster-mother to become mj 
wife to-morrow night I will find lodgings for her in the town, 
and a priest shall be in waiting to perform the ceremony. 
Qnne, now, prove thy love for me in this matter. Thou bast 
powerful influence over Adrienne,and she will grant thy wishes.' 

' Now, then, thou hast set me a task that is to my liking,' 
cried Francois ; ' and I'll promise thee, sire, that with my sup- 
plications I'll BO play upon Adrienne's feelings that she will 
give her consent But I make a condition.' 

' Name it,' said Rcnaud gaily. 

' Thou must ffive Basile his liberty again.* 

Francis's object in saying this was to probe Renaud, and 
endeavour to find out his intentions with reference to the 
Jester. He watched Kenaud's face, and saw it darken with 
malice and hatred. And Henaud himself, forgetting for a 
moment the caution and diplomacy which generally marked 
his actions, exclaimed fiercely : 

' Thou art a fool ; Basile is my deadly enemy, and my rival. 
For years he has thwarted me, and I hate him. ChiUice at 
last has placed his life In my hands, and ere many hours have 
sped my measure of revenge shall be complete.' 

Franfois had succeeded beyond bis expectation, and he had 
completely laid bare Renaud's designs, and there could no 
longer be a doubt that poor Basile was doomed to be secretly 

Cut out of the way unless some means could be found to save 
im. Renaud, on his part, saw that he had committed him- 
self, and bitterly regretted that he so allowed his feelings of 
hatred to betray him. But he was almost reassured, when 
Franks said : 

' An he is BO dangerous an enemy, self-interest will justUy 
thee in securing thine own safety.' 

' Now, then, thou art my noble son, and I am proud of thee,' 
exclaimed Renaud joyfully. ' All will yet be well. Influence 
Adrienne as I have requested, and I pledge myself thou shall 
have Lilian for thy bride, and I will place thee high in the 
Queen's favour again.' 

Doing outrage to his feelings, but fiiUy determined to 



172 BASILE THE JESTER 

deceive Itenaud and throw him off his ^ard, Francis bent 
one knee and kissed Renaud's hand, that being the pledge of 
filial love and devotion. And he said : 

' I thank thee. Now am I happy indeed. I will to Adrienne 
at once. And unless I have lost my power of persuasion over 
her, she shall be thine to-morrow.' 

He did not wait to hear Renaud's reply, for he dared not 
trust himself to say more, lest he should betray the disgust 
and contempt he really felt, and which up to that moment he 
had succeeded in so admirably concealing. He therefore 
hurried from the room, and for some moments Renaud stood 
looking after him with a self-satisfied grin upon his face. 
Then he turned towards Bastian, who was sitting bolt upright 
now, and said : 

' Bastian, what thinkst thou of yon lad t' 

'No more than I think of the devil, an it please you, 

'How so, sirrah ?' 

'Even because, an I am not witless, I saw "FOX" writ large 
upon his brow.' 

' You mean that he is cunning i' said Renaud quickly. 

'The devil pinch me an you are not right, master' 

Renaud's face clouded over and was filled with trouble again. 

He was full of faith in Fran9ois a few moments ago ; now 
he doubted him. He bit his lip with suppressed anger, and 
he paced restlessly to and fro, stopping presently to say with 
some excitement in his tone and manner : 

' Mayhap thou art right, though the iad can do me little 
harm. But, Bastian, thou art faithful as a sleuth-hound 
to me f 

' Satan clutch me an I am not, master.' 

' Good. Then thou must give me peace of mind. Every 
hour that Basile lives I am oppressed with deadly fear. He 
being dead, I should breathe freely and begin to live." 

' Give me thy commands, master,' said Bastian, as, rising, he 
shook himself much after the fashion of a dog, and his dark 
&ce was repulsive in its wickedness. 

' Listen,' said Renaud. ' About ten of the clock to-night, 
when all have retired in the palace, thou shalt to the Stone 
Chest. I'll give thee a sign for the man-at-arms, and he'll 
admit thee. Thou wilt engage Basile in talk until, watching 
thy chance, thy poignard must find his heart. Am I clear f' 



t, A. WOODWABO. 

Ul-6lh Avenuo. 

M. Y. CU*.- 



4 




>L i- 



*I SAW "FOX** WRIT UPON HIS BROW* 1?3 

' As a cr}*stal river, good master/ 

' So be it. But mark ye, Bastian, let thy blow be so aimed 
that it shall seem as if the fool hath done himself to death. 
Dost understand ?' 

'You shall dub me ass an I do not.' 

' Bastian, thou art a treasure/ exclaimed Renaud, ' and thy 
intelligence doth honour to thy noble country. Then, this 
night thou wilt give me peace and happiness ?' 

' If to know that the Jester will shake his bells no more, 
and never again give one the belly-ache with his dull wit, will 
bring thee peace and happiness, then are these things assured 
to thee.* 

As Bastian uttered the words his ever sinister face be- 
came more sinister, and his small dark eyes were afire with 
hatred and malice. He was an ill-favoured man, with a 
scowling expression and a pock-marked face. He was burly 
and broad-shouldered, with a something about him that was 
not at all calculated to beget the confidence of his fellow-men. 
He was by birth an Italian, but had travelled much, and had 
been a soldier. He had originally come to England as a 
servant in the suite of one of the Italian ambassadors. He 
had, however, been dismissed for misconduct, and had then 
made his way to Edinburgh, obtaining employment as a gar- 
dener at Holynxxl. Subsequently he attracted the notice of 
Renaud, who made him his private servant, and his creatun\ 
Bastian was a knave at heart Renaud soon discovered this, 
and moulded him to his will. 

This plot between the two men, wicked and dastardly as it 
was, would in all probability have been carried to a successful 
issue, as only too many of such plots were, had it not been 
for the merest chance. When Francois was leaving the room 
some unaccountable impulse prompted him to linger In'tween 
the heavy curtain that screened the doorway and the door 
itself, and thus it came about that he heard Renaud ask 
Bastian, 'What thinkst thou of yon lad?' and Bastian's answer, 
' No more than I think of the devil.' Francois would have 
been a dullard, indeed, if from these few words he had not 
Bus|)ected that something more important might be gathered ; 
so he listened and heard the whole plot for the assassination 
of Basile the Jester. 



BASILE THE JESTER 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

HOW THI FOWLEB HIMSBLT WAS aNARED, 

Up to the moment tlut he had been enabled by chance to 
play the eavesdropper, Francis was at a loss what to do to 
save his friend Basile. To have appealed for justice to any- 
one in the palace would have l>een about as efficacious as to 
have appealed to the man in the moon. In point of fact the 
condition of affairs was Uttle short of anarchy, and those who 
were powerful and able to command followers ruled for the 
time being. But hatred, jealousy, and uncharitableness dis- 
played themselves in all their hideous nakedness, and despotic 
tyranny was exercised with unflinching cruelty. The boy was 
fully cognisant of all thisj and felt sure that if he would save 
his friend he must rely upon himself. What he had now 
heard at once suggested a means, desperate it must be con- 
fessed, but they were desperate times and desperate things 
were being done every hour of every day ; and therefore it 
did not do to stand upon nice points, and be delicate as to 
the course to pursue when villainy had to be foiled. 

Fran^s's first step was to see Adrienne, but he did not in- 
form her of what he had overheanl. He simply told her that 
he had formed a plan by which he hoped to rescue Basile, 
and he bade her leave the palace, she being free to do that 
since it was known that the Queen had commanded her to 
depart She was to make her way to Ye Lion, in the market- 
place, and there wait until he and Basile joined her. 

'But,' he added, 'ehouldst thou find when morning light is 
dawning that we are still absent thou wilt ride away swiftly, 
and draw not rein until thou art well on thy way to Berwick.' 
Adrienne smiled at this, but merely said : 
'No, dear, I go not until thou art able to go with me.' 
Francis knew it was no time for argument, and all he 
could do was to hope that the scheme he had in his mind 
might be successfully carried through. And so he left 
Adrienne, having exacted a solemn promise from her that she 
would leave the palace, secretly if possible, in order that 
Renaud might not come to know, but under any circumstances 
leave, and seek refuge for the time being with the tapster 
Geofi«y at Ye Lion. 



HOW THE FOWLER HIMSELF WAS SNARED 175 

This preliminary stage settled, Francois watched his oppor- 
tunity to go to the Bo-callcd Stone Chest The tower in which 
it was situated was, in fact, nothing more than a guardhouse, 
and the cell in question was used principally for refractory or 
drunken soldiers. But there had been times when prisoners 
of more importance had been confined there. It was an un- 
usually strong prison-house. It was squarely built ; the cell 
WAS lighted by three slits in the wall, heavily barred, and the 
door was massive oak, plated with iron. Escape, therefore, 
was practically impossible by anyone who had the misfortune 
to become an inmate, unless, of course, such escape was con- 
nived at. Now, connivance was exactly what Francois relied 
on. Fortunately for himself, he was a general favourite, and 
reganled with considerable interest, owing to his history and 
the knowledge that the Queen was veiy fond of him. He 
was thus allowed many privileges, and was enabled to do 
things that would not have been tolerated in others. 

Two men-at-arms kept watch and ward at the door of the 
guardhouse in the cell of which Basile had been incarcerated. 
Francois knew both these men, and they on their part knew 
that he and Basile were great friends. Thus, then, there was 
a condition of things which was favourable to the prosecution 
of his scheme. He approached the two soldiers, and, exhibit- 
ing great distress and pitiable anxiety, he exclaimed : 

' Alas ! alas ! you have my poor friend Basile shut up in 
that dreadful place. Give roe leave, good gentlemen, to get 
speech with him, that I may comfort him, and I vow to say 
twenty aves in your behalf, and pray the saints to guard you 
whenever you are called upon to fight Good gentlemen! 
be kind to me, for I am sore grieved that my poor Basile has 
lallen into disgrace. Nay, I dare be sworn that neither you 
nor any man else could tell what his offence is. I'll tell you. 
My sire loves Mademoiselle Adrienne de Bois, and Basile 
loves her too, and so my father ha.s put him in here. I'hat'a 
a mighty fine thing to be shut up in a dungeon for, eh ?' 

The soldiers were highly amused, and grounding their 
calivers, laughed heartily. And one of them, named Martin, 
said: 

' Shoot me, but thou art a pretty boy, Francis, and dis- 
tressful withal ; and by the fiend, I see no great rea.s»n why 
thou shouldst not be gratilieil, and have speech with the 
Jester, save this, that it ie more than our Uvea arc worth to 



176 BASILE THE JESTER 

admit thee even an we had the power, but our captain keeps 
the key in his room.' 

' Say not so, for the dear Christ's sake,' exclaimed Francois 
with a whunper. ' Now, I'll tell thee what I'll do, Martin. 
I will return when it is nine of the clock. It will be quite 
dark then, and there will be no danger. Canst thou not steal 
the keys when thou art off duty ? Then thou and thy com- 
rade could give me entrance to Basile, and that would enable 
thee to call this thine OMm.' 

As he spoke he drew forth the little bag of money which 
Basile had given him some hours before for his own use. 
Martin's eyes glistened, and he pretended to snatch at the 
bag, but Fran9ois drew his hand quickly away, and said : 

' Promise me what I ask thee, and it shall be thine.' 

Martin looked inquiringly at the other man, who nodded 
an assent, so Martin said : 

' Good Master Francois, what dost thou value that money- 
bag at?' 

'There is more in it than all thy year's pay for soldiering.' 

' By Mars, but 'tis worth the gaining !' Martin answered. 
' Now, we are relieved at six of the clock, and come on again at 
eight, an it be possible to obtain the keys they shall be got. 
Come thou here at nine of the clock, bring that bag with 
thee, and thou shalt see Basile, or may I never more sup 
Lammas ale.' 

Francois hurried away, feeling that so far he had succeeded 
in his plan. A little later, in order to put Renaud off his 
guard, he took the precaution to visit him again, to tell him 
that Adrienne was suffering from an illness brought on by the 
excitement she had endured ; but that he had fully persuaded 
her to consent to the marriage. 

Quite deceived by the youth's plausibility, which was 
assumed as an imperative necessity, Renaud was unusually 
elated, and congratulated himself not only on his skill in 
plotting, but on his success in having got his enemy Basile in 
his power, and in having at last broken down all Adrienne's 
scruples. 

It was alK>ut half-past eight when Fran9ois stole cautiously 
from the palace, and, making his way through the grounds, 
reached the guard-house. The night was dark, fortunately. 
He found Martin at his post, for he would be on guard till 
midnight. As illustrating the spirit of intrigue and plottinc^ 



HOW THE FOWLER HIMSELF WAS SNARED 177 

which was rampant amongst all classes of society at that 
period, Martin had procured through another soldier, by means 
of a small bribe^ a flagon of a very strong drink^ commonly 
used. It was a mixture of French eau-de-vie and a spirit that 
w&s distilled from vegetables. It was a powerful, fiery drink, 
and .s|K'edily intoxicated. With this stuff Martin had traded 
on the weakness of his comrade on duty with him, and who 
had a craving for spirits, until the unfortunate man had fallen 
down insensible, and Martin then dragged him to an obscure 
comer under a tree, there to sleep off his drunkenness. 

' Where is thy comrade ?' asked Francois, as he came up. 

' Drunk,' was the curt answer. 

' Hast thou succeeded in getting the keys ?' 

'Ay.' 

' That is well,* answered Francois joyfully. ' And now listen. 
In a little while thou wilt have a visit from Bastian, the page. 
He is charged to secretly assassinate Basile, but Basile must 
be saved. Thou wilt now give me admittance, and lock the 
dcK)r again, but after Bastian has entered thou must contrive 
to keep the door unlocked. Dost understand ?' 

' Ay, gocnl Master Fran9ois ; but what of Bastian ?* 

' Leave him to me, and trouble not thyself.' 

'Thou must be cautious,' Martin remarked. 'Our captain 
goes the rounds every half-hour, and it were woe to all of us 
an he should discover our plot. Give me the money, and 
when thou art gone I follow, for to remain here would be to 
meet a dog's death at the end of a rope. In the meantime, 
as soon as thou hast entered I must take the keys back. By 
St. Christopher, but I am running a great risk !' 

Fran^*ois handed the bag of coins to Martin, who secreted 
it in the breast of his jerkin, llie door was then opened, and 
Franrois found himself in the celL 

It was rather a large sort of room, with bare walls, a domed 
rfH)f, and a stone floor. There was a common oak l>ench, a 
three-legged stool, and an old wooden bedstead furnished 
with a straw |>allet. Basile was lying on the bed, but started 
up as the boy entered, and with joyful surprise clasped him in 
his arms. 

Francis speedily related to the Jester that Bastian would 
be there anon, and what his object was in coming* 

' I will secrete myself here,* Fran^'ois said, indicating a 
narrow s|)ace between the bed head and the wall. ' This stool 

1% 



178 BASILE THE JESTER 

shall l>e my weapon. Take care that Bastian has his back 
to me.* 

They continued to talk for some time and to arrange their 
plans, though they were both fully aware that they were far 
from being out of the wood yet, and any hitch in the plot 
might be fatal to them both. 

Nearly an hour and a half passed, and they began to fear 
that Bastian was not coming. But at last a grating key in the 
^k warned them to be on their guard. In a few minutes 
the door opened, and Bastian entered. 

Martin, the soldier, had succeeded in returning the keys to 
the hook in the guardroom where they were usually kept, so 
that they might be easily procurable when a disorderly soldier 
had to be thrust into the cell. Bastian had come to the captain 
with an order from Renaud for admission to Basile. The 
captain had sent one of his men with Bastian, and this man 
happened, as good fortune would have it, to be a great friend 
of Martin's, who engaged him in conversation, and diverting 
his attention, drew the keys from the door, taking care to leave 
the door unlocked. 

' Bastian is to have halt an hour ; didst thou not so state ?* 
Martin remarked. 

' Ay, camarade, that is the order.' 

' Good ; take thy keys, and come back then.' 

The man went away, and Martin waited in anxiety for what 
was to follow. He had not to wait long. Basile placed a 
stool for Bastian, so that he sat with his back towards the 
recess, where Francois was concealed. Bastian's plan was to 
engage the Jester in conversation, and watching his oppor- 
tunity, slay him. But in this case the fowler himself was 
snared. Fran9ois with a quick, agile movement felled Bastian 
to the ground by a tremendous blow from the stool, where he 
lay stunned. Then Basile and the boy hurried out, and found 
Martin on the alert. Listening for a moment to assure them- 
selves that the coast was clear, the three men hurried by a 
tortuous pathway through the shrubber}', until they reached a 
large tree that grew close to the wall. By climbing this tree 
they were enabled to gain the top of the wall, and so drop 
down on the other side. Each successfully accomplished the 
feat, and in a few minutes were making their way rapidly to 
Ye Lion, where they hoped to obtain horses to enable them 
U} qoQtinue their flight to a place of safety. 



THE REFUGEES 179 



CHAPTER XXXVL 

THE RBFUOBES. 

After a few dajrs' stay in the gloomy, and yet picturesque. 
Castle of Dunbar, Queen Mary found herself at the head of a 
formidable army, which consisted for the most part of well 
armed and well drilled feudal retainers. She herself had not 
been idle, but had displayed the most restless energy, and a 
burning desire to be revenged on her enemies. Her craven 
husband was tortured with fears as to the consequences to him- 
self for the murder of Rizzio, and in order to endeavour to 
restore himself to her Majesty's favour again, he meanly issued 
a declaration, which was publicly proclaimed in Edinburgh. 
Therein he basely contradicted the reports which had asso- 
ciated him with what he termed ' The late cruel murder com- 
mitted in the presence of the Queen's Majesty, and treason- 
able detaining of her Majesty's most noble person in captivity.' 
And he further went on to declare on his honour, fidelity, and 
the word of a prince, ' that he never knew of any part of the 
said treasonable conspiracy whereof he was slanderously and 
falsely accused, nor never counselled, commanded, consented, 
assisted, nor approved the same.' 

His cowardly disavowal of the part he had played in the 
conspiracy had the contrary effect to what he expected, and 
simply lowered him in his wife's opinion instead of restoring' 
him to her favour ; while his companions in guilt heard his 
lying declaration with stunned amazement He himself had 
incited them to conspire for the defence of his honour, and the 
increase of his power; now his separation from them, and 
his betrayal of them to the Queen, filled them with loathing 
disgust, they execrated him, and being determined not to let 
him escape as though he was free from all blame, they com- 
municated to her Majesty the two bonds he himself had 
signed, and in which it was arranged they were to confer on 
him the matrimonial crown, and to murder Rizzio. 

These documents opened the Queen's eyes to the duplicity 
and hollowness of her husband ; and withdrawing from him 
her confidence, she reganled him with feelings of unmitigated 
dis^t; and she plaiidy gave him to understand that she 



180 BASILE THE JESTER 

considered him an ungrateful husband, a perfidious conspirator, 
and a cowardly liar. 

On a cold morning, as the white mists were swirling In from 
the sea, which was lashed into roaring fury by a strong gale, 
the Queen mustered her forces, nearly ten thousand strong, 
and with drums beating and banners flying, she set out once 
more for Edinburgh. She rode a magnificent white horse, 
whose only trapping was a scarlet cloth thrown over its back. 
Mary looked every inch a Queen, and beautiful to boot. Her 
face was flushed with excitement, and she was elated in an un- 
usual degree at once more being in power. She rode at the 
head of her army, accompanied by a brilliant train of nobles, 
and so anxious was she to reach her capital again, that she 
frequently urged her horse into a gallop, and necessitated her 
friends going after her at full speed, and representing the 
danger she ran by separating herself from her guard. 

The news of her approach at the head of such a formidable 
army caused intense excitement in Edinburgh, and a perfect 
panic amongst the conspirators, who waited for nothing, but 
mounting fleet horses, fled towards England for the safety of 
their lives. 

Amongst the fugitives were Bomcester, his daughter Lilian, 
and his sister Julie. At first he had been disposed to remain 
and brave the Queen's wrath, for he had an extensive and 
valuable business ; but it was represented to him that in the 
flush of victory, and wrathful with righteous anger, the Queen 
would show no leniency to anyone who had conspired against 
her, and least of all to him who had openly insulted her, and 
whose fanaticism had led him into the utterance of most violent 
and unjustifiable language. 

He yielded to the solicitations of his friends, for a very 
little reflection showed him that he was too conspicuous and 
too powerful a figure to escape the Queen's notice, and that 
his life would of a certainty be forfeited. It was a great blow 
to him to have to make the sacrifices w^hich flight compelled 
him to do ; but there was no alternative, and so he set his 
servants to hastily pack up the most valuable of his goods, 
and engaging a number of hack-horses, he piled his things 
upon them, and turned his back upon the city. 

To poor Lilian the blow was a heavy one, for the thought 
of leaving without seeing Fran9ois almost crushed her, because, 
perchancci she would never see him again. She had to bear her 



THE REFUGEES 181 

sorrow alone, for her father was too gloomy and too depressed 
to be approached, while Aunt Julie, still clasping her beloved 
Bible to her scraggy breast, turned the whites of her eyes 
upwards and moaned, refusing either to be comforted or to 
speak, save when now and again, by way of relieving her 
feelings, she turned her eyes down, and loaded her brother 
with reproaches, though why she did this was not very clear. 
No one knew, nor did she know herself. However, that was 
of no consequence. If she had not been able to abuse some- 
body she would probably have had apoplexy. No doubt her 
worthy brother thought of this and so tolerated her abuse, as 
he knew that, under the circumstances, he would have been 
put to tremendous inconvenience to bury her, unless he had 
dug a grave in a field or by the roadside. He, in fact, rode 
along in sullen silence, for the worldly sacrifices he had been 
comjielled to make preyed upon his mind. 

Lilian rode beside him, and it was with the greatest difficulty 
imaginable that she was enabled to keep the tears from gushing 
forth. In fact, as it was, her eyes were frequently dimmed, 
as she reviewed the past, in which she had known so little 
sunshine, and turned towards the future, which appeared no 
less dark — and darker still as the pnibability presented itself 
to her that never again would she behold Franijois. Perhaps 
until this moment she had not kno^'n how intensely she 
loved him. Now she was strangely depressed, and felt as if 
nothing in the world could possibly interest her. 

Thus the trio pursued their journey all day long in silence, 
their baggage animals following in a string. Bomcester was 
nervous and restless, and frequently glanced uneasily backward 
along the road, expecting to see arme<l men in pursuit But 
he felt that it were better to be taken than abandon his 
pro|)erty, and so he accommodated his pace to that of the 
hack-horses which carried the goods. During the day several 
other refugees fnim the city passed them on their way south, and 
they volunteered the information that the Queen was marching 
on Edinburgh at the head of an enormous army, and that large 
rewanls were offered for the capture of any of the con- 
spirators. 

This latter was not pleasant news to the old fanatic, but, 
nevertheless, he resolutely declined to leave his pro|>erty ; 
for in spite of his fanaticism worldly wealth had a great charm 
for him. 



ISa BASILE THE JESTER 

Night was falling m, tired and jaded, they reached a lonely 
hostel where they were enabled to obtain hospitality. Bom- 
cester had all his goods taken into his sleeping-room, and 
piled in a heap in the centre of the floor, while he himself kept 
watch and ward over them, refusing to budge an inch. Not 
that there was much danger of thieves, for the hostel was 
lonely, and but few people were stopping in it But still, the 
old man loved his wealth so intensely that even to imagine the 
possibility of losing so much as one ounce of it tortured him. 
When he bad partaken of supper, which he ordered to be 
brought to his room, he fell to praying, calling on the Lord to 
protect him and his property, and to confound the Papist 
Queen Mary and all her followers. 

Aunt Julie and Lilian supped together, but almost in 
silence, until they had finished, and then Aunt Julie drew a 
great sigh as she hugged her Bible, and eiclaimed : 

' Verily an affliction hath fallen upon us, and our enemies 
hath encompassed us round about ; but the Lord, whose name 
be praised, will deliver us out of their hands, anti bring us 
into a land of peace and plenty. Hast supped well, child f 
addressing Lilian- 

' Exceedingly well, auntie.' 

' We have been fed in the wilderness, and should give 
thanks,' pursued the lugubrious Aunt Julie. 'By the rood, 
but I have a twinge of my rheumatiz ; and, as 1 am a poor 
sinner, it has struck me in my back. Lilian, child, thou shall 
demand from mine host ten drops of his finest cognaa And 
see to it, that the water wherewith thou mizest my draught 
be boiling ; and Lilian — O Lord have pity on an old woman, 
but that was an awfHil twinge J — Lilian, thou mayst put twenty 
drops of fine cognac in the water. An mine host hath a 
luscious Spanish citron thou canst add a delicate slice. Thou 
wilt remember that when I had my rheumatiz at Candlemas 
the leech swore by the virtues of Spanish citron when its 
sharpness was blunted by fine cognac. And, child, see that 
mine host cutteth not the citron with a steel blade. Ugh ! 
these hostel-keepers be little better than barbarians. Stay, I 
think it were better that thou shouldst tell mine host to bring a 
flagon of fine cognac, and 1 will measure the drojts myself, and 
look to it that he forgets not the sugar.' 

Lilian tripped away to execute her commission, and dear Aunt 
Julie sighed a^^ain — a sort of raspy, weedy sigh, suggestive of 



THE REFUGEES 183 

a wintry blast whistling through dead bulrushes ; and turning 
up her eyes again, she expre^ed a hope that the Lord would 
deliver her from her enemies. 

In a few minutes Lilian returned with the information that 
the flagon of fine cognac would be forthcoming, but that mine 
host was full of sorrow at his powerlessness to produce the 
Spanish citron. 

' I dare be sworn, dear auntie/ added Lilian, ' that, an his 
looks belied him not, he hath never beheld a Spanish citron.' 

' Heaven forgive the poor barbarian !' piously ejaculated 
Aunt Julie, as with her mittened and bony arms she more 
closely clasped her Bible. 'Truly we are in the land of 
darkness and ignorance, an they knoweth not Spanish citron. 
It is a grievous deprivation to me, Lilian, not to have the 
citron in my mixture, but I accept with resignation the Lord's 
will.' 

In due time mine host appeared with a flagon of fine cognac 
and a steaming beaker of water, together with a bowl of sugar. 
And when Aunt Julie had descanted learnedly on the virtues 
of your Spanish citron, she dismissed him with an imperious 
wave of her withered hand, and then she proceeded to concoct 
her ' rheumatic mixture ' ; but whether it was that the dear 
old soul's eyes were unusually dim, or her hand trembled by 
reason of her twinges, the ' twenty drops ' of cognac were 
greatly exceeded, and a dose amounting to nearer two hundred 
was the result But the potency of the draught did not 
seem to affect Aunt Julie very much, and as her twinges 
increased very considerably, she found it necessary to twice 
repeat her favourite remedy ; and then, noticing that her 
niece was dozing on the settle in the chimney-comer, she 
exclaimed huskily : 

' Child, thou shalt unloose my stomacher and take off my 
gown, and we will to bed ; and may the Lord protect us from 
Papists, robbers, cut-throats, and all such verfnin.' 



CHAPTER XXXVIL 

AN ALARM AND A PLEASANT 8URPRI8B. 

It was a sullen morning when the fanatical Bomcester, hU 
sister, and daughter took their de|)iirture from the hostel, and 



184 BASILE THE JESTER 

continued their southward journey. The morning was already 
well advanced ; for much time had been consumed by Bomcester 
in counting all his things to see that nothing was missing, and 
in haggling with mine host about the reckoning. He was as 
gloomy and as sullen as the morning, and he gave vent to his 
feelings in sighs and groans, intermingled with pious ejaculations 
and anathemas against the Papists, to whom he attributed all 
his misfortunes and trouble. Aunt Julie's ' twinges ' had for 
the moment left her, but she deemed it prudent, good gentle 
creature, to fortify her system against any return of the 
'rheumatiz' by a few drops of fine cognac. The beautiful 
Lilian looked jaded and even more depressed than on the 
previous day. 

They were, in truth, a doleful party, though not without 
their comical aspect The fanatic bestrode a horse much too 
small for him, so that his long legs nearly touched the ground, 
while Aunt Julie was seated on a great ambling beast whose 
colour was rusty gray, while his ribs were suggestive of hoops 
over which parchment had been stretched. Every now and 
then this fiery steed stopped to refresh himself by nibbling 
grass on the wayside. Then would Aunt Julie turn up the 
whites of her eyes in pious wrath, and she would drum with 
her heels on his ribs, but all to no purpose ; he treated her 
with profound disdain. The consequence was she had to call 
upon one of the drivers of the hacks for assistance, and so by 
a forcible application of a stout hazel stick, the rusty gray 
animal was induced to move on a little further. This alterna- 
tion between going and stopping took up a good deal of time, 
and sorely vexed the soul of poor Aunt Juhe, who complained 
of twinges again, and expressed a very emphatic opinion that 
horses were like some men : they wanted a great deal of 
driving and hard thwacks before they would go the right 
way. 

This drew the fanatic from his shell, and caused him to 
utter a remonstrance ; and he said that he considered his 
sister was utterly wanting in that respect for the male sex 
which it was woman's bounden duty to have. Whereupon 
Aunt Julie squeezed her eyes to try and get some tears from 
them ; but failing in this, she turned to Lilian, and in very 
dolorous tones said : 

' Thou wouldst do well, child, to note thy father's words. 
Thou wilt perceive, an thou be not a dullard, that a woman 



AN ALARM AND A PLEASANT SURPRISE 185 

has but a sorry time of it in this wicked world ; and when 
she becomes a man's wife she becomes his bond-slave. I 
praise the Lord that I have escaped the common lot And, 
Lilian, see that thou dost not marry; or an thou art bent upon 
manning, marry a fool, so that thou mayest rule him.' 

' Hold thy peace, woman !' roared her brother. ' Thou art 
an idle chatterer, with no more brains than Dame Fothergill's 
daughter, and as thou art aware, she is a bom idiot' 

Aunt Julie uttered a shriek, and nearly fell from her rusty 
gray steed, and as she held one of her skinny hands aloft, she 
exclaimed : 

' Oh, woe is me, that I should have lived to be called an 
idiot by my own flesh and blood ! Brother,' she added 
solemnly, ' thou wilt incur the wrath of the Lord, an thou art 
so disres])ectful to thy poor weak sister, who is entitled to thy 
sympathy and not thy abuse.' 

' Let not thy tongue wag so like a magpie, thou vinegar 
woman,' sneered her brother. ' I vow that thy senseless 
chattering doth dLstract me.' 

He dug his knees into the ribs of his horse, in order to make 
it increase its speed, so that he might get beyond the range of 
his sister's voice. 

Then Aunt Julie, stretching out her long, lean body, said 
scornfully to Lilian : 

' Child, I have been called a vinegar woman. Oh, but it 
is monstrous that my mother's son should so insult me.' 

'Agitate not thyself, dear aunt,' said Lilian soothingly. 
' My ]KM)r father is sore distressed, and he sayeth things 
hastily. Be comforted, I pray thee, aunty.' 

Aunty, however, refused to be comforted, and continued to 
pour out her vials of wrath on her brother's head until she had 
exhausted her vocabulary, and became silent, much to Lilian's 
relief. 

Thus they rode along until about four o'clock in the after- 
noon, when a cry of alarm broke from one of the drivers of 
the hack-horses. He pointed back along the road they had 
traversed, and far away in the distance a great cloud of dust 
could be seen rising up, indicating the rapid approach of horse- 
men. Bomcester saw it and exclaimed : 

' We are pursued. The enemy is upon us. May the Ix>rd 
disperse and scatter our foes, even as chaff is scattered before 
the wind.' 



186 BASILE THE JESTER 

The sudden fright caused Aunt Julie to go off into scream- 
ing hysterics, and, slipping from her horse, she fell on her 
knees in the dust, and began to pray in an excited voice. 

' James,' said Bomcester sternly, addressing one of his men, 
' carry that screeching female into the middle of yonder field, 
and there empty thy flagon of water over her head. Your 
cold water is a most excellent cure for light-headedness.' 

At this order Aunt Julie sprang to her feet, and shaking her 
Bible at James, exclaimed : 

' Man, an thou hast regard for thy features, touch me not, 
for I will so mark thee that thou wilt think a forest cat hath 
had her way of thee.' 

' Truly she describes herself well,' said Bomcester caustically. 
' Forest cats are dangerous cattle, therefore thou hadst best 
not meddle with her, James.' 

This new indignity only served to incense Aunt Julie more, 
and there is no telling to what extent her injured feelings 
would have prompted her to go had not Bomcester thrust her 
on one side with an angry gesture, and said : 

' Thy name is Satan, get thee gone.' 

This was too much for poor Aunt Julie, who fainted in 
earnest, so that James lifted her up and carried her to a clump 
of ferns at the base of some trees, where Lilian proceeded to 
loose her stomacher and to apply her scent satchel to her 
nose. 

Bomcester stood in the centre of the road, looking the very 
personification of gloom and misanthropy. He strained his 
eyes in the direction of the advancing cloud of dust, and could 
plainly discern horsemen now, galloping at a furious pace. 

'An these be our enemies,' he murmured, 'we are lost But 
we will defend ourselves, and pray the Lord to fight on our 
side. Hast got the pistols ready, James, and the caliver 
loaded ?'* 

' Ay, an it please you, master ; but an my old eyes deceive 
me not they be not soldiers that are coming.' 

Bomcester drew a sigh of relief as he recognised this fact 
himself, and then suddenly he exclaimed : 

* They are refugees, like ourselves, fleeing from persecution, 
for, see, a woman rides with them.' 

* A caliver was & kind of musket with % long barrel. It was generally 
loaded with & number of small built ts and, for the period, was & formid- 
able weapon, though it took some time to load. 



AN ALARM AND A PLEASANT SURPRISE 187 

In another few minutes the new-comers thundered up^ their 
horses panting, and flecked with foam, they themselves covered 
with dust, and wearing anxious, jaded looks. And then there 
burst forth a cry of mutual surprise and recognition as they 
drew rein, for they were Francois, Adrienne de Bois, and 
Basile the Jester. 

' The Lord preserve us/ exclaimed Bomcester, ' but this is a 
surprise ! And where goest thou. Master Fran9ois ^' 

' We journey to Berwick.' 

' We also bend our steps in that direction. Thou art flying 
from the Queen's wrath ?' 

' Ay, we seek a place of safety for a time.' 

* A murrain seize her,' cried Bomcester hotly. 

'Hush V said Fran9ois quickly, 'thou must not speak like 
that of the Queen's Majesty. And thy daughter, goes she 
well ?' 

' She tends her aunt yonder, beneath those trees,' Bomcester 
answered sulkily. 

At that moment Fran9ois caught sight of Lilian, and spring- 
ing from his horse, he ran to greet her. 

She beheld him with feelings of gratified amazement, for it 
seemed to be little short of a miracle that they should meet in 
such an unexpected manner, and when she had almost begun 
to mourn for him as one for ever lost Forgetting Aunt Julie 
for the moment, the elated girl made a hurried move forward, 
as if to receive the embraces which he seemed ready to bestow. 
But a voice arrested her, and the voice was her father's. 

' Thou art inclined to be too familiar with this lad,' he said. 

' Father !' exclaimed Lilian indignantly, and blushing with 
shame and vexation. 

' Surely, sir, you forget that at our last meeting you gave us 
permission to be alone,' put in Francois in surprise, and looking 
at the strange old man somewhat severely. 

' Ay, that did I,' answered Bomcester. * But now things 
are changed somewhat Thou must renounce the Queen's 
Majesty and all her surroundings before thou wilt be privi- 
leged to claim my girl. But come, we will talk of that anon. 
Let us move onward lest we be overtaken by the ravening 
wolves who do the Queen's business. These are friends of 
thine, I tn>w ?' Referring to Basile and Adrienne. 

Francois kissed Lilian's hand, and whispered hastily : ' Be 
of good cheer, dear heart' Then answering the fanatic's 



188 BASILE THE JESTER 

question, he said : ' Kven so, sir. The lady is my honoured 
foster-mother, who, on account of my unworthiness, has fallen 
under the Queen's displeasure.' 

' Out upon the Queen for a jade,' cried Bomcester spitefully. 

' Nay, sir, I do protest against this abuse of her Majesty/ 
Francois remarked, evidently to Bonicester's annoyance, 
though he said nothing. * This gentleman,* Fran(^ois continued, 
' is my excellent friend Basile, erstwhile Jester in her Majesty's 
Court' 

* I give thee greeting, sir, though thy trade is a sorry one, 
growled Bomcester; 'thou wouldst do better to turn monk and 
save souls.' At this moment his attention was drawn to one 
of his pack-horses, which had become unruly, and flinging out 
its hind legs, tossed its burden of packages over its head, 
scattering lace, satins, ribbons, and fancy cloths about the road 
in a confused jumble. 

Old Bomcester sprang from his nag with astonishing nimble- 
ness, and raising both hands high above his head in an attitude 
of denunciation, he exclaimed : ' May the foul fiend torture 
thee and all thy stock, thou spittle of a venomous serpent ! 
James ! James !' he yelled, ' rescue those laces from the mire, 
for as I am an honest man I shall be ruined an thev be soiled. 

m 

And give me thy cudgel that in the Ix)nrs name I may beat 
out the devil which has entered into this unruly beast' There- 
upon he proceeded to unmercifully flagellate the wretched 
animal, and when he had exhausted himself by the unusual 
exertion, he said pantingly : * There is virtue in your oak cudgel 
and a stout arm. Thou art an enemy to peace of mind and 
pious thought,' he added, addressing the poor beast, which 
was trembling with fright ' Thou art an offspring of Satan 
himself, but I thank the Lonl that he has given me strength 
to sulxlue thee. Reload the beast, James, and see to it that 
my goods be not contaminated with the mire and dust' 

During this little scene Franc^ois had helped Aunt Julie and 
Lilian to mount, and had ridden forward with the latter ; 
Basile and Adrienne following side by side, while Aunt Julie 
brought up the rear. When the fanatic saw that the little 
party had left him behind he roared out : 

' What ho, there ! A plague upon you for scurvy tricksters. 
Have you so small regard for age and the dignity of the Lord's 
chosen servant that you dare to put this affront upon him Y 
He threw his long legs over his horse and urged it into a 



AN ALARM AND A PLEASANT SURPRISE 189 

ftallop, and as he came abreast of Franfois and Lilian he drew 
Kin and exclaimed, as he strugfrted to regain his breath, 
' Sirrah, an thou hast ever had f;ood breeding thou must have 
left it behind in thy hurried flight ; as Tor thee, daughter, thy 
shame le>isn ess arouses my ire.' 

' Nay, dear father ' she began. 

' Peace !' he cried. Then turning to Fmn^is, he said ironi' 
cally : ' An thou art desirous of playing the gallunt, bestow thy 
pleasantness upon my sister; she will ap]>rectate thee. Nay, I 
verily believe she would welcome an ape an it wore a beard, 
and was dressed in a man's clothes.' 

Aunt Julie's sallow visage lighted up with volcanic fires of 
wrath as she caught these words, and in a shrill tone she 
pi[»ed: 

' Brother, 1 vow that thou art a pig, and thy language doth 
outrage to the innocence of my dis|M>sition.' 

Bunicester laughed coarsely, if a contortion of his knotted 
face and the emission of a guttural sound from his cavernous 
mouth could be called a laugh. 

Concealing the amusement he really felt, Francois placed 
him^elf beside the indignant Aunt Julie ; and considering it a 
wise policy to propitiate her and win her regard, he began to 
talk soothingly and admiringly to her, until the dear creature 
broke out into a benign smile, and murmured with a long- 
drawn sigh : 

' Thou art truly a handsome youth, and of exceeding great 
courtesy ; one could almost love thee an thon wert not 4 
Papist'^ 

CHAPTER XXXVIII. 



In due time the incoiigruoiis cavalcatle reached Berwick with- 
out further adventure, where the refugees were safe for the timi' 
being from Queen Mary's anger. On her return to her capitid 
her Majesty lost no time in drawing up a list of those whom 
she intended to punish, should they return into her kingdom. 
Amongst the names figured those of Francis and Bomcester: 
the latter was described as an arch traitor and a dangerous 
fanatic, in whose house the plot for the murder of KizEio was 
concocted ; while Fran^-ois was accused of treacherr, but was 



190 BASILE THE JESTER 

offered a pardon on condition of his returning and giving 
details of the plot and a complete list of all those who had 
directly or indirectly been concerned in the conspiracy. Fail- 
ing that he was not to come into the kingdom of Scotland 
again on pain of certain death. 

When Francois heard this, as he speedily did, for news soon 
travelled down to Berwick, he was plunged into profound 
grief. Even if he had been in possession of the information 
desired, and for which a pardon was offered, it is doubtful if 
he would have given it But he had no such knowledge, and 
so under any circumstances it seemed that he was for ever 
banished from the Queen's regard. 

Old Bomcester was not at all aff*ected by the indictment 
against him, but on every conceivable occasion he spoke of the 
Queen in terms of the vilest abuse ; and his intense hatred 
of her made it evident that while he lived he would be a 
standing menace to her peace and safety. Notwithstanding 
that he had lamented deeply about the heavy losses he vowecl 
he had suffered through his hurried flight from Edinburgh, he 
had not left much of his wealth behind him, and his natural 
aptitude for making money was soon tamed to account in 
Berwick, where he commenced his business in an old house 
that stood on the banks of the Tweed. 

Between him and Francois differences speedily arose, though 
it is almost needless to say that they were caused entirely by 
Bomcester. He charged the youth with being a secret partisan 
of the Queen of Scotland, whom he denounced as an immoral 
and profligate woman. He called upon Francois to join in 
these denunciations, and to renounce Catholicism, as the only 
means whereby he might hope to gain Lilian for his wife. 

Both these courses Fran<^ois resolutely refused, though it is 
possible that he would have embraced the new faith had it 
not been for the influence of Adrienne de Bois and Basile, both 
of whom, being staunch Catholics, reviled the followers of the 
new doctrines in the bitterest terms, and pointed out to 
Francois that if he became a renegade his life would hence- 
forth be cursed. The difficulties that thus beset him made 
him feel very unhappy. He was at present a dependent upon 
Adrienne, and he saw no prospect of securing Lilian for his 
wife unless he entirely fell in with her father's views. 
Although Bomcester did not entirely deny him the privilege 
and pleasure of seeing Lilian, he never allowed him to be with 



THE RIFT IN THE LUTE 191 

her unless he himself were present «t the time. But the f&ct 
is, the old mHn still looked on Fnui^ois as m pliable tool, and 
was hopeful that he might yet gain him over. 

Thus matters lasted for some time, until Francis felt his 
existence to be intolerable. He saw quite clearly that he 
must decide between love and loyalty, and the consequence 
was he was constantly struggling with his feeling, and suffer- 
in;; keen mental distress. 

One day his foster-mother informed him that she had 
decided to yield to the importunities of Baslle and become 
his wife. 

Francis heard this decision without any surprise, for he had 
all along seen that sooner or later it must come to that. But 
it causMl him some secret trouble nevertheless, for, rightly or 
wrongly, he thought that he had no right to hope, and 
certainly could not expect, that his foster-mother would take 
the same interest in him after her marriage, and that, as a 
matter of fact, he would be more lonely than ever. 

This feeling bennl a strange unrest within him, and, driven 
almost to desjteration, he sought an interview with Borace^ter, 
during which he reminded him that he was not true to his 
word, for that he had absolutely promised him that he should 
marry Lilian. But that now that he had joined in a conspiracy, 
and was a fugitive from the Queen's wrath, the promise was 
as lar olT as ever from being fulfilled. Bomcester's answer 
was blunt Jnd to the point so far as he was concerned. 

' Forswear the (Jueen, change thy &ith, and Lilian, with nn 
ample fortune, is thine.' 

It was a terrible temptation — a temptation that not many 
young men, as poor and friendless as Francois, would have 
resisted. Even he wavered a little, though for that he was to 
be pardoned, but he felt that though he loved Lilian intensely, 
the outrage he was asked to do to his feelings was too great 
a sacrifice. 

Ever since the day when he had taken her part as ngninst 
her brother. Aunt Julie and Frani-ois had been excellent 
friends. And as if to avenge herself against her brother, she 
encouraged Fran<^is to persist in his wooing of Lilian, and if 
he found that he could not in the end obtain the old fnniitie's 
consent, she advised him to carry her off. This latter course, 
however, was not an easy one, seeing that he was poor, and 
had not even the means to pay for such assistance as would 



192 BASILE THE JESTER 

have been necessary, while his poverty would have prevented 
him from providing her with a home. But, nevertheless, he 
thought that if he could get her to consent to elope with him, 
he would run the risk, and would apply to his foster-mother 
for a loan of money. Filled with this idea, he enlisted the 
sympathies of Aunt Julie, and prevailed on her to walk with 
her charge one evening on the banks of the Tweed, so that he 
could talk to Lilian out of her father's hearing. 

She, poop girl, was no less troubled than he was. Her 
father's tyrannical rule pressed heavily upon her, and she 
longed for freedom from it, but she listened to Francois's pro- 
posal to elope with shuddering dread. Her sense of duty to 
her father was even stronger than her love for Francois, and 
she told him that she could not, dare not, leave him clandes- 
tinely, for he would curse her. 

'Then the time has come, Lilian, when you and I must 
part,' said Francois sorrowfully. 

' Alas ! say not so,' she exclaimed in piteous accents. ' An 
thou goest, then indeed the light will go from my life.' 

' But it is impossible for me to remain here any longer in 
this uncertainty,' he answered. 

' But my father may relent,* she urged. 

'I fear not,' Francois answered, 'unless I fulfil the con- 
ditions he has laid down, and which to. me are absolutely im- 
possible.' 

The beautiful girl was overwhelmed with grief, and wept 
bitterly ; but as she showed an unalterable determination not 
to go away without her father's consent, Francois, on his part, 
was equally determined. ' Then our roads diverge,' she said 
in a voice broken with sobs. 'Mine will be gloomy and 
pleasureless, as it has ever been ; but thine will take thee into 
the wide world. Soon thou wilt forget me, and give thy heart 
to another.' 

' No, as I hope for Heaven, no !' he cried passionately. 

' Hush,' she said, ' make no rash vows. Thou may est feel 
sure now, but when thou art away and the days go by, some 
fair face will soon attract thee.' 

' May God forget me an I allow it to do so 1' he said with 
great earnestness. ' Thy name is writ here on my heart, and 
no living woman shall ever erase it Thy father has deceived 
me,' he added with bitterness, ' but my love for thee has not 
abated one jot, and never wilL* 



A MYSTERIOUS WARNING 193 

Lilian was terribly distressed, but since he persisted in 
going away, she felt she must resign herself to her fate. She 
allowed Fran9ois to embrace her warmly, and she embraced 
him in return, and then when the deepening gloaming warned 
her and Aunt Julie that it was time to return, she and her 
lover parted with tears and sighs. He tore himself away 
broken-hearted, and some hours later, after having written 
letters to Adrienne and Basile to tell them that he was going 
off to seek his fortune, he stealthily left the town. 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

A MYSTERIOUS WARNING. 

By energy and determination Mary Queen of Scots had once 
more restored herself to power in her own kingdom, and had 
brought forth into the world a prince, who was destined, un- 
wittingly, to push his royal mother from the throne, and, after 
a reign of thirty-five years in Scotland, to ascend the throne 
of England as James I. 

The turbulent spirits, however, who kept the kingdom in a 
state of unrest, were still intriguing, and taction strove against 
faction, and party against party. Amongst the Queen's per- 
sonal household, none seemed more devoted to her or more 
faithful than Philippe Renaud, now one of her chief physicians. 
She believed him to be a man in whom she could repose the 
most perfect confidence, for had he not even denounced his 
own son, when that son had conspired against her ? This trust 
and confidence only served to make Renaud more unscrupulous, 
more ambitious, more designing. Iktsile's escape had annoyed 
him immensely, for he would have much preferred to have 
heard that he was dead ; but he had represented Basile in 
such black colours to the Queen, that he did not deem it 
possible even that she would ever restore him to her favour. 
But though the Queen did not so express herself, she was 
truly sorry that Basile and Adrienne had gone ; for she had 
known them both from her childhood, and Adrienne had been 
her girlish companion. Her Majesty therefore secretly re- 
solved to recall her when an opportunity should oc*cur. 

Renaud, believing that he had nothing more to fear now 
that Basile, his enemy, had fled, began to weave plans for his 

IS 



194 BASILE THE JESTER 

own aggrandizement To gain more power, and acquire great 
wealth, was the dream of his life ; and thinking that he could 
best realize this by an apparent slavish serving of her Majesty, 
he took extraordinary means to impress her with his devotion, 
and one of these means was that of basely acting the spy on 
her unfortunate husband. 

The Queen had come to look upon her husband with 
positive abhorrence, and one day, when Renaud had carried to 
her some piece of information against Lord Damley, she 
sighed deeply, and said : 

' Alas ! alas ! in what way have I so offended heaven that I 
should be tortured by such a man ? An he had been so grand 
a man as the noble Earl of Bothwell, then indeed would I 
have been his slave ; but my Lord of Damley is a poor weak 
coward, whose very presence makes me shudder.' 

These significant words were not lost upon Renaud, and he 
treasured them up for future use. The indiscretion of the 
Queen in uttering them was in keeping with her general con- 
\ duct, for though brave, and even heroic, she was sadly want- 
ing in that diplomatic caution which should be one of the 
strongest features in the character of a royal personage. 

It was unfortunately an open secret that her Majesty had 
displayed a marked partiality for the Earl of Bothwell ; and 
those who loved her best did not hesitate to speak of it as ' a 
fatal passion.' James Hepburn, the fourth Earl of Bothwell, 
was at this time about thirty years of age. He was not only 
rich, but held important offices in the kingdom, and was the 
husband of Lady Jane Gordon, who was the daughter of the 
Earl of Huntley. 

Bothwell had nothing to recommend him in his looks, but 
he had a martial bearing, was fond of pleasure, possessed 
dauntless courage, an air of chivalrous devotion, and displayed 
the easy, elegant manner peculiar to France, where he had 
spent part of his life. The Queen was charmed with him. 
Her romantic and susceptible nature became a prey to his 
seductive blandishments, and her idea was to render him a 
faithful and useful servant. He on his part was a daring, am- 
bitious man, and aspired to become her lover and her master ; 
but Lord Damley, the husband, was a barrier that would first 
of all have to be removed. 

At this time a border-war was raging in the south-east 
comer of the kingdom between three powerful families of 



A MYSTERIOUS WARNING 195 

Lkldesdale ; and in order to repress this war and restore 
tranquillity, her Majesty des|)atched Bothwell thither with the 
title of Lord-Lieutenant, and two days later she set out for 
Jedburgh, there to hold her assizes, and to endeavour by her 
personal influence to repress the sanguinary conflict then 
going on. 

It chanced that on the ver}' day that her Majesty was 
travelling to Jedburgh her favourite Bothwell had been sorely 
wounded in a personal fight with a notorious robber named 
John Elliot, and it had been found necessary to convey the 
wounded Earl to the Castle of Hermitage, of which he was 
then the owner. It was a |N>werful border fastness, rugged 
and stem amidst its wild surroundings. 

The Queen heard with pain and alarm of the illness of 
Bothwell, and when she had discharged her im])erative judicial 
functions at Jedburgh, she took horse and hastened to the 
Castle, accompanied by Renaud and some of her nobles. It 
was a long and harassing ride, and the (Queen's anxiety to 
reach her destination was so great that she took no refresh- 
ment, and allowed herself no rest. On arrival, she stayed an 
hour with the wounded Earl, and then rode back again. She 
occupied lodgings in an old house in the town of Jedburgh, 
and that night she s|)ent several hours in writing to Bothwell, 
notwithstanding that she had only just led him. Her room 
was a low-pitched wainscoted chamber, narrow and long, 
and communicated at each end with other rooms, which in 
their turn communicated with a corridor that was connected 
by a flight of stairs with the courtyard. The Queen had ex 
pressetl a desire to be left alone for some time, and had given 
orders that she was not to be disturbed. This onler led to 
some laxity on the part of her attendants, who mmle it an 
opportunity to enjoy themselves, while — the night being 
stormy and bitterly cold, for October was well advance<l — the 
guard on duty in the courtyard bad stolen into the great 
kitchen, to flirt with the serving wenches, and drink hot ale 
before the blazing wocxl fire on the cavenious hearth stcme. 

It thus came alK>ut that a man, watching his op|M>rtunity, 
was enabled to slip through the guanl and gain tlie stair\%-ay 
without being ob&er\'ed. He was entirely enveloped in a 
long brown cloak and cowl, such as was worn by mendicant 
friars ; and in onler to more effectually screen his fiice he 
wore over it a piece of black muslin, wliich rendered recog- 



196 BASILE THE JESTER 

nition impossible. With stealthy steps he passed into the 
Queen's apartments and gained the doorway of the one where 
she was busily writing. For a moment he stood regarding 
her. Then he made a noise with his foot to attract her 
attention. 

She looked up^ and her face^ already pale, became paler 
still as a shock of fright almost paralyzed her heart. 

' Madame, have no fear,' said the man. ' I am here not to 
injure, but to warn you.' 

' Who art thou ?' she gasped in choking accents, and feeling 
as if she were suffocating, and that all the strength was going 
from her limbs. 

' A friend/ was the answer that came from the mysterious 
figure. 

' And thy business ?' she faintly murmured. 
' To warn and caution your Grace.* 

' Against whom, and what ?' she gasped in a voice that was 
almost inaudible. But the man heard it, and without ad- 
vancing an inch, he answered in solemn and measured 
accents : 

' Beware of Philippe Renaud. He is an impostor and a 
treacherous servant of your Majesty. He aims onl^- at gain- 
ing power. Beware also of the Earl of Bothwell, or he will 
bring your Majesty to shame and sorrow.' 

The Queen by this time had almost fainted, and the room 
seemed to be swimming round her. Then the mysterious 
stranger disappeared as silently and stealthily as he had come, 
and passing down the stairs and through the courtyard, gained 
the street without being discovered. 

For some little time her Majesty remained in a dazed and 
half-stupefied state, until by a desperate effort of her wonderful 
energy, she roused herself up, and sounded her bell, which 
brought her chief female attendant. 

' Your Majesty is ill ?' cried the woman in grave alarm. 
' No, no,' murmured the Queen ; ' but tell me hast thou 
seen anyone pass to my chamber or from it ?' 

' No, your Majesty, as I hope for mercy,' the woman 
answered, turning deadly pale with superstitious fear. 

' It is strange — very strange,' mused the Queen. ' I could 
have sworn that a cloaked figure entered my room and ad- 
•^Iressed some words to me.' 

* Your Majesty is faint and weary. An it please you, I will 



THE LEECH AND THE EARL 197 

summon your Majesty's maids to put you to bed.' The Queen 
made a sign as if she objected to this^ but the woman 
pleaded : 

' An it please your Majesty, I crave you retire, for your 
Majesty looks so ill and weary.' 

The Queen could no longer disguise from herself that she 
was ill. The extraordinary exertions she had gone through, 
\ver great mental distress at Bothwell's illness, and now the 
fright she had received by the strange appearance of the 
cloaked figure, had told upon her, and she felt that her 
strength had left her, and as if she were dying. So obvious 
was this illness that the woman took upon herself to summon 
the attendants. No sooner was this done than her Majesty 
fell into a deep swoon, and remained unconscious for some 
hours, and apparently at the point of death. She rallied, 
however, but was seized with a violent fever, and relapsed 
into insensibility, which lasted for several days. 



CHAPTER XL. 

THE LEECH AND THE ZAKU 

The Queen lay in an extremely dangerous condition for many 
days, and it seemed as if her end had really come, llie Earl 
of Bothwell, being convalescent from his wound, hastened to 
her, and his presence seemed to have a good effect She re- 
covered but slowly, however, and it was not until well on in 
November that she was able to leave Jedburgh. 

It was stormy, wintry weather, and the hurtling blasts of 
icy wind drove down blinding snow wreaths until the whole 
ex|>anse of country was |)allid and silent, as if touched with 
the chill of death. The Queen, who still suffered extremely, 
appeared careworn and melancholy. She reposed On silken 
cushions in a litter that was bonie by relays of men. But 
pn>gress was slow and difficult, for the paths — roads being un- 
known — were obliterated in many |Mirts with snow, and in 
places were worn into deep ruts and holes by the autumn 
rains. 

A large retinue accompanied the Queen; it included, besides 
an armed force, the Karl of Bothwell and his own |)ersonal 
followers, and a number of other noblemen. Renaud was 



198 BASILE THE JESTER 

still in attendance on her Majesty, notwithstanding the warn- 
ings she had twice received, first from her favourite Adrienne, 
and then from the mysterious stranger who had audaciously 
penetrated to her private chamber at Jedburgh. But though 
ner manner had in no way altered to him, her faith had been 
somewhat shaken ; before she had been three days on the 
road, however, that faith was made whole again by reason of 
his devotion and attention. 

The journey was performed by short stages along the coast. 
The sea was wrathful, being lashed into fury by the fierce 
winter gales ; and the thunderous surf as it beat upon the 
rocky shore filled the air with flying spume and deafening 
roar. The sullen, ashen, and boisterous weather seemed to 
depress the royal invalid until she was overwhelmed with grief 
and sorrow, and several times she exclaimed : 

' I could wish to be dead. I could inish to be dead.* 

On one of these occasions Renaud, who was beside her 
htter, ventured to say : 

' Wherefore, madam, are you so unhappy ?' 

She turned her white face towards him, and fixing her 
languid, mournful-looking eyes on his, she answered in tones 
that scarcely rose above a whisper : 

' Alas, good Renaud, an thou knew how heavy is my hearty 
thou wouldst not wonder at my sighs and groans.* 

' Your Grace's heart should be light,* he said insinuatingly. 

' Should be !* she echoed. ' Ay, should be, an it were not 
chained to one who values it not, and who has tried so hard 
to break it* 

Renaud glanced about him to make sure that no ear was 
suflficiently near to catch his words, and then he remarked 
cautiously : 

'An I read your Majesty's words aright, it is my Lord of 
Damley who has so treated your Cirace.' 

The Queen made no answer. She only sighed and looked 
at him. But what other answer did he require ? The King's 
conduct had been such as to cause the Queen the most 
poignant grief, and if she hated him he had brought it upon 
himself. 

After a journey of twelve days the royal traveller reached 
her favourite residence, Craigmillar Castle, within a league of 
her capital. She was still very ill, and being much in need 
of rest, she decided to sojourn a fortnight at Craigmillar. The 



THE LEECH AND THE EARL 199 

Earl of Bothwell remained in close attendance on her^ and she 
seemed to derive great pleasure and comfort from his presence. 

One afternoon, when the short winter day was darkening to 
its close, the Earl was |)assing to his quarters, having been 
paying a visit to the Queen, when a man suddenly confronted 
him as he turned an angle in the passage. 

' Most noble Earl, I would humbly crave private speech 
with you,' said the man. 

' What art thou }* exclaimed the Earl, half drawing his sword, 
suspecting treachery ; for in the gloom he could not distinguish 
the s|)eaker. 

' I am Philippe Renaud, the Queen's physician,' came the 
answer. 

' Ah, by my faith, I knew thee not, good Renaud,' said the 
Earl, returning his sword to its scabbard. ' Come thou to my 
chamber, and we will s|>eak together.' 

Bothwell led the way to his sumptuously-furnished room, 
where, throwing himself on to a cushioned seat, he motioned 
Renaud to be seated also, and then he said : 

' We are free to speak without -fear of interruption. What 
is thy pleasure. Master Renaud ?' 

' I would speak of her Majesty, an it so please you,' answered 
Renaud, fixing his eyes u|x>n the Earl. 

'Of her Majesty! And what of her? Speak freely, for I 
am interestetl in all that concerns the Queen's person.' 

' You know, my lord, that her grace has a heavy sorrow at 
her heart, and I much fear it retardeth her recovery.' 

' Thou art her leech, and should know,' returned Bothwell 
artfully, and watching his companion's face out of the comers 
of his eyes. ' But an thou art skilled in thy trade, thou 
shouldst discover the sorrow and endeavour to remove it. To 
know the cause of a disease is to be able to suggest a remedy.' 

' Right well do I know the cause of the disease, my lord ; 
but the remedy lies in your lonlship's hands.' 

' How say you so ?' exclaimed the Earl, affecting to be in- 
dignant, and turning a little pale. 

' Nay, an it please you, my lord, reserve your anger,' Renaud 
said im|>erturlmb1y. ' The disease is her (vrace's husband ; 
and though I be a leech I know no remedy for that complaint.' 

Bothwell started, and seemed uneasy. Then sitting upright, 
he made answer, while an expression pregnant with a deep 
meaning came into his dark face : 



200 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Good Renaud, have a care of thy tongue, lest it cut off 
thine own head. We live in dangerous times, and we must 
be cautious for fear the very spirits of the air spread our 
secrets abroad/ 

' You said but now, my lord, that we were free to speak 
without fear of interruption,' Renaud remarked pointedly. 

'Ay, ay — true,* answered Bothwell, a little disconcerted. 
'But come, now, thou hast referretl to her Majesty's disease; 
art thou quiie sure thou knowest not a remedy ?* 

* I have heard it said, my lord, that for such diseases divorce 
is good,' said Renaud slowly. 

The Earl turned his face away as if to hide what was pass- 
ing in his mind, and it was only afler a considerable pause that 
he replied very pointedly by asking a question : 

' Dost thou mean a legal divorce, Renaud ?' 

Renaud, not to be outdone in astuteness, answered almost 
sharply : 

'Verily so, my lord, since I know not other means of 
obtaining a divorce.' 

The Earl shrugged his shoulders, and replied : 

' Nor I. But hast thou reflected, Renaud, how many diffi- 
culties lie in the way ? The Queen's Majesty is cousin to the 
King, her husband ; and, in order to remove that disability to 
their marriage, the Pope granted a dispensation, and how could 
he be asked to remove that } An thou knowest aught that 
would sustain a charge of adultery against the King, or could 
we prosecute him for treason, then might there be hope for 
the Queen's disease. But failing that, alas ! I see nothing 
but shadows for her poor Majesty as long as she may live.' 

' Nor I,' returned Renaud, ' save ' 

' Save what .'*' cried the Earl eagerly, as the other paused 
on the word and showed no intention of proceeding. 

' Save the King should be called away,' Renaud added slowly. 

' Now art thou tedious,* exclaimed Bothwell. 'What meanest 
thou by called away f 

' I mean that there is no way save it should please Heaven 
to remove him to a better world.* 

' And thou wouldst suggest that his removal be hastened,' 
Bothwell remarked quickly and bluntly. 

' I said not so.' 

' No ; but that is thy thought. Give thy thoughts vent, 
man. I am thy friend, and not thy enemy. Therefore speak 



THE LEECH AND THE EARL 801 

freely. AtuI nurk me, Renaud,' he mlded with great signifi- 
cance, ' the Earl of Bothwelt never beirayt and ttever forgeU hi* 
friendt.' 

KenautI bent one knee before the Earl and said, with well 
simulated humility : 

' 1 claim the high honour of being your friend, my lord, if 
to be staunch and true and faithful implies friendship.' 

' By the Mass, they do !' cried the Earl, 

' Then wishing only to serve you well,' Renaud went on, ' I 
would say that my Lord of Damley should die.' 

'How?' cried Bothwcll. 

Renaud rose, and bowing, said : 

' My lord, I have suggested a remedy for the Queen's most 
desperate malady ; but, an you will give me leave to say it, it 
is for you, my lord, to find a means for the administration of 
the remedy.' 

Bothwell became very thoughtful and frowned gloomily. 
He paced up and down for a little while as though quite 
oblivious of Kenaud's presence. Rut suddenly he stopped, 
and laying one hand on Rennud's shoulder, and with the 
other taking Renaud's hand, he said, as he peered into 
his eyes: 

'■ftiou art in very truth a friend ; but be cautious. We 
will talk anon of this matter. In the meantime observe, but 
apeak not ; and let this be a pledge of. secrecy between thee 
and me.' 

He took from his neck a gold chain of fine workmanship, 
to which was suspended a diamond cross ; he placed it round 
the neck of Renaud, then dismissed him. And when Renaud 
got into the corridor he clutched the dilmond cross in his 
hand and thought to himself: 

'The riches are coining nt lasL All that I have hoped for, 
all that I have craved, all that I have dreamed of will Ik mine. 
Riches, and high estate, and power — ay, fxiwer, that is worth 
all the others.' He smiled sardonically at his own thoughts ; 
then suddenly the tmtle passed, giving })la('e to a deep 
anger frown, and he muttered audibly : ' I muM win 1 Let 
tbcwe who would thwart me beware 1 



202 BASILE THE JESTER 



CHAPTER XLI. 

THE QUEEN AND THE CLOWN. 

The Earl of Bothwell sat in thoughtful silence for a long time. 
Shadows were around him, but he saw them not Had he 
done so he might have been startled, bold as he was ; for he 
would have seen the terrible fate that awaited him and the 
hapless Queen. But he looked no further into the future 
than so far as it concerned his own immediate advancement. 
He was daring and pitiless, and aimed at eagle flight. To 
grovel in the dust, as some men were content to do, would 
not suit him. He would soar up. towards the sun and bask in 
its dazzling brightness. And to one youthful as he was, daring 
as he was, unscrupulous as he was, and powerful as he was, 
what could be impossible } 

He rose from his reverie with stem resolution, and a deter- 
mination to lift himself up and up, even to the throne. 

' Her Majesty suffers grievously,' he murmured, ' and it 
were unkind not to give her ease. The remedy for her 
Majesty's sickness lieth in my hands, so said the villain, 
Renaud. We will see an it be so.' 

Bothwell lost no time in gathering around him powerful as 
well as daring spirits, who were ready to do his bidding 
and carry out his suggestions slavishly. Amongst them were 
Lord Tethington, Sir James Balfour, the Earl of Huntly-and 
Argyle. They formed themselves into a homicidal league, 
and they bound themselves by oath and a signed bond to 
' cut off* the King as a young fool and t3rrant who was an 
enemy to the nobility, and had conducted himself in an 
intolerable manner to the Queen's Majesty.' They further 
pledged themselves to stand true to each other and defend 
their desperate deed as a necessary measure of state. 

A month later the Queen had almost recovered her usual 
health, and her infant son was baptized with great magnificence 
in Stirling Gistle. The event was celebrated with great re- 
joicing ; and though it was wintry weather, and bitterly cold, 
festivities on a stupendous scale were prepared. The old castle 
was ablaze with banners, and from the ancient ramparts cannon 
thundered the whole day long. A brilliant assembly of nobles 



THE QUEEN AND THE CLOWN M3 

had gathered together, and an ambassador with a large retinue 
had arrived from England, bearing a solid gold font as a 
present from Queen Elizabeth. In the town a fair was held, 
and the country people flocked in from the country for 
many miles around. Whole sheep and oxen were roasted at 
huge bonfires, and cakes and ale were distributed by tons 
gratuitously. 

Lord Damley, though resident in Stirling Castle at this 
time, was not present at the imposing ceremony of the 
baptizing of his own son. He seemed to have sunk into 
gloomy apathy, he shut himself up in his own apartments 
and held aloof from the festivities, although requested to 
show himself to the people. The Queen was much irritated 
and annoyed by his conduct, but she managed, for the time 
being, to throw aside her sadness, while her natural amiability 
and grace asserted themselves ; and when the night had come 
she gave her consent to a masque being performed by some 
mummers. 

This masque was enacted in the grand reception-room of the 
castle. It was a tragic story, but the gloom was relieved by 
the antics of a merry-andrew who, grotesque and ridiculous 
in paint and feathers, cut such capers, and was so full of jokes, 
that he kept the royal audience convulsed with laughter. 
This merry -andrew was evidently a young man, but his 
features were so disguised with paint that it was difficult to 
tell what he was like. 

The Queen, with Bothwell on her right, sat close to the 
little stage, and behind her were her nobles and members of 
her household, Renaud being conspicuous as sitting close to 
the royal chair. 

During the progress of the masque the merry-andrew pre- 
tended to be a fortune-teller, and, approaching the Queen, 
dropped on one knee before her, and begged her to show 
him her royal hand. Much amused by his audacity and 
buffoonery, she complied with his request, and he, affecting to 
read the lines in her palm, said : 

' Your Majesty hath a son.* 

' Go to, thou foolish loon,' replied the Queen good-hu* 
mouredly, 'an thou canst tell us nothing newer than that we'll 
dub thee knave, and have thee trounced.' 

' Nay, your Majesty, an it please you, your Majesty, I am 
but a |ioor clown, and know not knavery,' the man answered 



204 BASILE THE JESTER 

with abject meekness, and bowing his head. 'But your 
Majesty's son shall become a king/ he continued, as he 
pretended once more to read the Unes in the Queen's hand. 

' Ah, now dost thou speak well/ the Queen murmured ; 
' and yet thy prophecy hath not much wit about it' 

'Your Majesty will have long life/ the man went on, 
' Your Majesty has good friends, but, alas ! enemies also. 
See to them, your Majesty, for they are dangerous villains. 
There is one who hath no blue blood in his veins. He is a 
plebeian ; watch him well, your Majesty, for he is, in truth, a 
very cunning knave.' 

' Go to, and resume thy place,' answered the Queen 
peremptorily, with some display of anger at the man's bold- 
ness, and by no means feeling comfortable, for his words 
suggested Renaud to her thoughts at once. 

The fellow rose from his knees, when suddenly his painted 
face became contorted with horror, as it seemed, and he 
appeared to be trembling in all his limbs. 

* Art thou ill ?' her Majesty demanded in alarm as she half 
started ifrom her seat 

' No, an it please your Grace,' said the man with quivering 
voice ; ' but that worthy gentleman hath looked at me, and he 
hath an evil eye.' 

The ' worthy gentleman ' alluded to by the merry-andrew 
was none other than Renaud, who turned deadly pale, and 
rising, seemed as if he were going to strike the clown. 
But the Queen, who was very angry now at this untoward 
incident, said commandingly : 

' Monsieur Renaud, resume your seat The silly loon hath 
no manners, but he is privileged at this time to say foolish 
things.' Then, turning to the clown, she said sharply : ' Get 
thee gone, sirrah ; thou hast abused the liberty we have 
accorded thee, and we are disposed to have thee cudgelled, 
that in future thou mayest learn better manners.' 

The man, whose greasy painted face still depicted fear, 
bowed very low, and then, as he was raising his head again, 
he muttered, but distinctly enough for her Majesty to hear 
his words, though Renaud could not hear : 

' He hath an evil eye, your Majesty, he hath an evil eye. 
Beware of him, lest he doeth a grievous wrong to your Grace.' 

Having thus delivered himself, the clown leapt on to the 
little stage and disappeared behind a curtain. 



THE QUEEN AND THE CLOWN 205 

The Queen was greatly agitated, and her first impulse was 
to have the fellow arrested ; but she saw at once that this 
would be giving importance to a ridiculous though unpleasant 
incident, so she decided to take no further notice of it. 

Although she was pleased to think the incident ridiculous, 
it affected her more deeply than she cared to confess, for, 
coupled with the mysterious warning she had received at 
Jedburgh, it seemed to have some significance. At a later 
period of the evening, when she was alone with Bothwell, she 
asked, in an assumed tone of careless indifference : 

' My Lord Bothwell, what opinion do you hold with refer- 
ence to my physician Renaud ?' 

The Earl was a little taken off* his guard by the question, 
but suddenly it flashed upon his mind that it might be to his 
own interests now to get rid of Renaud once and for all. He 
did not see how he could use him further, and owing to what 
had ])assed between them the Earl knew that to some extent 
he was in Renaud's power. So, laughingly, he made answer 
to the Queen thus : 

' An it so please your Grace, the matter hath concerned me 
not hitherto, since I have deemed Monsieur Renaud a some- 
what insignificant personage. But since your Majesty demands 
to know my humble opinion, I should be lacking in honesty 
an I failed to say plainly that I like him not.' 

' And wherefore so ?* exclaimed her Majesty, with sudden- 
ness and alarm. 

'Nay, your Grace, be not alarmed,' Bothwell returned, 
wishing to reassure her ; ' as I am an honest gentleman, I 
believe Monsieur Renaud to be a knave ; but he is powerless, 
and a wave of your own sweet hand would sweep him away.' 

The Queen looked at Bothwell for some moments. Then she 
turned from him without further remark. His words, taken in 
connection with the warning at Jedburgh, and the clown's 
remark that night about the evil eye, however, made a great 
impression upon her, and for the first time she began to 
suspect Renaud of treachery. Hitherto she had had great faith 
in him. Now that faith was once more shaken, and she resolved 
that in future she would trust him less and watch him more. 



206 BASILE THE JESTER 

CHAPTER XLH. 

INTO THE SHADOW OP DOOM. 

Renaud, after that incident at the masque, became conscious 
that the Queen's manner had somewhat changed towards him, 
and he had grounds for thinking that he was falling into her 
disfavour, if he had not already done so. This, however, only 
encouraged him to intrigue the more, believing that he would 
have a greater hold over her Majesty if the plot to murder 
Damley was successfully carried out. He therefore connived 
with the conspirators, and in particular he sought to cement 
the bond between himself and Bothwell. The Earl, on his 
part, would have liked to have shaken him off, but herein 
he showed himself to be a less clever man than Renaud, 
who was now a perfect master in the art of deception and 
intrigue. The Earl was compelled to recognise that in Renaud 
he had no ordinary person to deal with, for the Frenchman 
was daringly ambitious, far-seeing, and capable by force of 
character of drawing men to him, and as a matter of fact 
he was the recognised head of a secret and powerful faction, 
ready at any moment to do his bidding. 

Under these circumstances feelings of prudence and caution 
induced Bothwell to make a show of friendship, although at 
heart he hated Renaud. But he resolved, since it was now 
impossible to break away from him, to endeavour to place him 
very conspicuously in the conspiracy, so that should revelations 
be made afterwanls, he would have no chance of escape. This 
design, however, was one in which two could take a hand, 
and Renaud had conceived a similar idea with reference to 
Bothwell, whom he distrusted, envied, and secretly feared. 
Thus these two bold and crafty villains tacitly agreed to hate 
each other, while outwardly they professed to be warmly 
attached. 

In the meantime the diaboUcal plot for the assassination of 
the King developed, and the end was not far off. Damley 
had been attacked with a grievous illness at Glasgow, and 
this illness subsequently proved to be small-pox. The Queen 
set out for Glasgow to see him ; and when they met, much 
to his surprise, she lavished upon him marks of the strongest 
affection. Damley was perfectly well aware that previous to 



INTO THE SHADOW OF DOOM 207 

this she had reviled him, and therefore he was not without 
suspicion that the new turn in affairs meant mischief. He 
was melancholy and despondent, and he made known his ap- 
prehensions to his wife. The Queen twitted him with his 
fears, and accused him of being deficient in courage and resolu- 
tion ; and then, displaying unusual warmth towards him, her 
former influence was soon regained. Amongst the numerous 
attendants on the Queen, who had accompanied her from the 
capita], was a Frenchman named Nicholas Hubert, who was 
commonly known as ' Paris.' This man was a confidential ser- 
vant in the service of the Karl of Bothwell. He was a dark- 
complexioned, well-made man, cunning and serpent-like as to 
his general appearance, and silent and mysterious as to his 
movements. 

Two days after the Queen's arrival in Glasgow Paris secretly 
departed in the dead of night for Edinburgh, being the bearer 
of a private letter from her Majesty to Bothwell. 

In a few days Paris returned and gave to the Queen the 
information that his master had prepared a house in Kirk-o'- 
Field for the reception of the King, since to take him to 
Holyrood, suffering as he was fmm infectious disease, might 
be to expose the baby prince to the danger of catching the 
complaint. 

The Queen made known to her husband what had lieen 
done, and told him that when he was a little stronger she 
would accompany him Imck to the capital. Damley heard of 
the plans with some misgiving. While on the one hand he 
yearned to be once more in the Queen's favour, and, as her 
husband, enjoy her confidence and trust, on the other hand 
he doubted and even feared her. Perhaps she divined some- 
thing of this, for she increased her expressions of affecticm, 
and showed him even more attention. Deluded by these 
manifestations, his fears faded away, and his pale cadaverous 
face, which had so long been clouded with the dee|)est 
melancholy, assumed an expressicm of joy fulness and ex- 
pectancy that caused him to look several years younger. 

Having thus got over his fears, he began to lavish caresses 
and extravagant praise u|M>n his wife, and he talked of the 
near time when once again in the brightness of her love he 
would be ever by her side, to pmtect her and guanl her 
interests, and share with her the cares of State. 

At last the day came for their departure, and the Queen 



SOS BASILE THE JESTER 

made arrangements for the journey to be performed by easy 
stages. Damley was to be conveyed in a litter, while the 
Queen elected to travel on horsebnek. 

\Mien the hour arrived for his leaving Glasgow, where at 
least he enjoyed security, Damk'v's old brooding fears canie 
upon him again. Once more his faith in his wife was shaken, 
and he observed to an intimate friend as he was on the point 
of departure ; 

' I have fears enough, but may God judge between us. 1 
have her promise only to trust to, but I h.tve put myself in 
her hands, and 1 shall go with her though she should murder 

A few days later, on a sobbing morning at the end of 
January, Damley and the Queen drew near the capital, and 
at a short distance from the gates the Earl of Bothwell 
came with a great retinue to meet them, and thence conducted 
them to the house in Kirk-o'- Field. 

The building that had been chosen for the royal lodging 
was an ill-conditioned place, and quite unsuited for the pur]>ose. 
It had formerly been the property of the prebendaries of the 
Kirk-o'-Field, and it was small, confined, badly ventilated, and 
badly furnished. It consisted of but two stories, one of which 
contained a cellar and another room. The other consisted of 
a gallery, which extended above the cellar, and a bedchamber 
which corresponded with the room beneath. In this bedroom 
a new bed had been placed, and it was hung with black figured 
velvet, which gave it a most funereal aspect, so that the young 
King, who was still an invalid, started and turned [Nile as he 
entered. And when his servant inquired what it was that 
affected him, he answered with a moiuiiful smile : 

' It seemeth to me as if that bed with its sable trappings 
was a funeral couch.' 

Three servants of the King were installed in the gallery, 
while the underneath room was prepared for the Queen, and 
the cellar was for the nonce turned into a kitchen. 

Here in this uncomfortable und barren place Maiy Queen 
of Scots and her husband Damley passed several days and 
nights. The house was isolated and lonely, though it stood 
near an old Dominican convent of Black Friars. Ktrfc-o'- 
Field itself was an extensive and open space, just outside of 
Edinburgh, and scattered al>out were several houses, nearly all 
of them being provided with gardens. One of these houses, 



INTO THE SHADOW OF DOOM 209 

the best in the Fields was the town residence of the Duke of 
Chatelherault To this residence Damley's servants had 
originally gone, intending to prepare it for their master's re- 
ception ; but, by order of Bothwell, the other one was selected^ 
owing, no doubt, to its isolated position, which offeretl better 
opportunities for successfully carrying out the nefarious plot 
This house, moreover, was at the time the property of one 
Robert Balfour, who was a toady to, and a creature of Both- 
well's, and a near relative of Sir James Balfour, who had 
drafted the bonds for the murder. 

The fatigues of the journey told somewhat on Damley, and 
he had a slight relapse of his illness ; but the Queen redoubled 
her attentions, and became more assiduous ; and she gave such 
manifold proofs of her affection that not only did he regain 
strength again, but the fears that had haunted him disappeared. 
He began once more to dream ambitious dreams, and to look 
forward to the day when he would be a king in something 
more than name. 

CHAPTER XLIIL 

THE PLOT THICKENS. 

While the Queen was thus deluding her husband by leading 
him to believe that she had once more restored him to a high 
place in her affections, the daring and unscrupulous Earl of 
Bothwell was elaborating and perfecting the plot which had 
for its object the destruction of Damley. In addition to the 
many accomplices amongst the nobility whom he had secured, 
the Earl took into his confidence some of his servants as well 
as some men-at4irms who had fought with him in the Border 
wars, and whose courage and devotedness he had amply tested. 
And apart from these he manifested great affection for Renaud, 
and told him that his services were indispensable. This 
affection was, of course, a sham, for he detested Renaud. He 
saw that he was cute, cunning, unscrupulous, and ambitious^ 
and that he was simply playing his own game. It was there- 
fore Bothwell's aim to so implicate Renaud as to get him quite 
in his power, even if he could not succeed in destroying him 
also, which he hoped to do. This fear of Renaud arose be- 
cause the Earl knew perfectly well that he was not to be 
trusted, but he had gone too far with him to throw him ovc r 

14 



210 BASILE THE JESTER 

now, and so he loaded him with presents, and tried to make 
him believe that he truly likecl him. 

Renaud, however, wa^ in every way a match for his noble- 
blooded, but treacherous, confederate. He read and probed 
the Earl better than the Earl read and probed him, and he 
knew perfectly well that the rich presents were simply so 
many sops, and the professions of friendship and affection 
simply false. 

' I play to win,' Renaud often said to himself. ' The dear 
Earl of Bothwell believes that he has a mouse in me, but when 
the proper time comes he may discover that he has mistaken 
a wolf for a mouse, and that I can devour him.' 

Bastian, the creature and page of Renaud, was also fully 
cognizant of the conspiracy, but he took no active part in it. 
His master, however, was careful that he should be a witness 
of the doings of the chief actor, and so Renaud constantly made 
notes of Bothwell's proceedings, and now and again he made 
Bastian attest these notes by appending his signature to them, 
Renaud's motive for this was to use them some day against 
the Earl, should the latter ever show any wish to cast him 
over. 

Amongst Bothwell's other tools was the Frenchman Paris, 
whom he had placed in the Queen's service in onler that he 
might exact from him more assistance. Paris, however, was 
kept in ignorance that the King was to be actually murdered 
until Bothwell was compelled to inform him, as he felt that 
his services were indispensable. The Elarl had had false keys 
made, so that access might be gained to the house at any time, 
and he wished Paris to ascertain if these keys were a fac- 
simile of those in use, and he also wished him to place a barrel 
of gunpowder in the room beneath the one that Damley 
slept in. 

Paris heard the revelation of the plot which his master was 
devising with abject terror^ and falling on his knees before the 
Earl, exclaimed : 

' Alas, my lord, I am your "willing and devoted servant, but 
I am not fitted for such devil's work as this, and I pray you, 
therefore, release me from your service.* 

'Tut, poor man,' answered Bothwell with forced humour, 
' thou art chicken-hearted and white-livered. But surely thou 
art magnifying the deed. Nay, 1 vow by my faith the deeti is 
a good one^ seeing that it will rid her Majesty of a detestably 



THE PLOT THICKENS 211 

husband, and bring happiness to her. Dost thou not approve 
of the plan now ?' 

' In truth, no, my lord.' 

Bothwell's face darkened, and he asked with ini|>atience : 

' What is thy opinion of it ?* 

* Pardon me, sir, if I tell you my opinion according to my 
poor mind.' 

' Thou wouldst not dare to preach to me,' growled the Earl, 
growing still more angry. 

' No, my loni, indeed not' 

' Say on, then.' 

' Humbly would I remind you, my lord, with your gracious 
permission, how great is the danger you run, and how great 
is the wickedness of the deed you would do. You, my lord, 
have had trouble and misfortunes in your past life, but now 
you have attained to tranquillity and greatness. Imperil not 
those things.' 

'I would enjoy more tranquUlity and greater greatness,' 
cried the Earl irritably. 

' Alas, sir, murder bringeth not tranquillity,' Paris answered, 
still trembling with fear, and being really desirous of dis- 
suading his majiter if possible from running the terrible risks. 
'And believe me, sir, that if you undertake this thing it will 
prove the greatest trouble you have ever had, and above all 
the others you have ever endured. Men will cry out against 
you, and you will be destroyed.' 

'Well, hast thou done.^' cried the Earl with suppressed 
passion. 

' You will, my lord, pardon me as one who is faithful and 
true to you, if I have sfxiken freely according to my poor mind.' 

' Thou art a fool !' Bothwell exclaimed, stamping his foot 
violently. ' Dost think I am go\pg to do this deed all alone 
by myself?* 

' I know not, sir, how you are going to do it,' answered 
Paris meekly. ' But this I know, it will be the greatest 
tn>uble you have ever known.' 

' Pooh, thou art affected with child's fear,* sneered the Earl. 
' Thou shouldst not wear a man's garl>, but put on |)ctticoats, 
for I swear thou art but as a silly wench who feareth to enter 
a darkened chanil>er. Why, I have already with me Tething- 
ton, who is accounted a most prudent man. He it is who is 
the umlcrtakcr of all this. And then 1 have also Monsieur 



212 BASILE THE JESTER 

Renaud, her Majesty's physician ; the Earl of Argvle, my 
brother Huntly, Morton, Ruthven, and Lindsay. But go to ; 
thou art a poor fool with a weak mind, unworthy to hear any> 
thing of consequence.' 

' It may be as you say, my lord/ Paris returned ; ' but I 
pray you release me from your service, for I fain would wash 
my hands of this dreadful business. ' 

The Earl felt uneasy, and glared ferociously at the kneeling 
man. Then suddenly he drew his dagger, and seizing Paris 
roughly by the arm, he brandished the weapon above his head. 

' Dost take me for as big a fool as thou art thyself?' he cried 
fiercely. ' I have made thee so far a confidant that I would 
not let thee go now lest thou shouldst betray me. Thou 
shalt take a hand in this business, or thou shalt not leave this 
room alive.' 

Paris had broken out into a cold perspiration, and his hair 
almost stood on end with deadly fear. He was a craven at 
heart and clung to life, and he knew perfectly well that the 
threat of his master was no idle one, but would of a surety be 
put into execution. So, looking up with piteous face and 
raising his clasped hands supplicatingly, he cried out in a 
hollow, tremulous voice : 

' Nay, pity me, good master, I pray you. Out of my dutiful 
love for you I am willing to serve you in any way you may 
desire.' 

A sneer of contempt passed over the sinister face of Both- 
well, as, sheathing his dagger, he answered : 

' Good, thou hast saved thy life. But swear by thy immortal 
soul that thou wilt serve me truly, and betray me not' 

'By my immortal soul I swear not to betray you, and I 
will serve you faithfully,' Paris said. 

'Rise and go,' said Both>^'ell, 'thy reward shall be com- 
mensurate with thy service.* 

Paris needed no second bidding. He rose to his feet, and 
kissed the Earl's hand in token of his complete submission ; 
and then, having received lengthy instructions from Bothwell, 
he took his de|>arture. 

The Earl strode about his apartment for some time in moody 
silence. The words of his man Paris had not fallen altogether 
on barren soil. He was perfectly conscious that he had 
entered on a des|>erate undertaking, from which retreat was 
now impossible, and which might involve him in great trouble. 



BEARDED BY ONE WHO FEARED HIM NOT 213 

Moreover, he knew that he was surrounded with enemies, for 
though he stood high in the Queen's favour and had gained 
great |K>wer, he was not {xipular, but was hated and feared, and / 
there were those who would rejoice at being able to crush ' 
him. Amongst them was Henaud. The Earl had at first 
l>een rather struck with the physician, but two equally grasp- 
ing and equally unscrupulous men cannot get on together; 
and Bothwell would indeed have been a fool if he had failed 
to perceive that he had an intriguing antagonist in Renaud. 

' You think to get me into your clutches. Master Renaud,' 
he muttered savagely l>etween clenched teeth ; ' but an 1 
should fail to send you to heaven in company with his Majesty 
the King, 1 will so draw your fangs that you will be harmless 
evermore,' 

CHAPTER XLIV. 

BKARDBD BY ONE WHO FBARBD HIM NOT* 

The winter day was growing dark on February 9» in the year 
1 i)67, as the Earl of Bothwell, in his own apartments at Holy- 
rood, held a secret meeting with his confederates in the 
dreadful plot that was to culminate that night in the death of 
the King. The arch-conspirator gazed round to see that all 
his accomplices were present, and then he said : 

' Gentlemen, the hour nearly approaches when, for the credit 
of our country and the honour of our Queen, we must strike 
the blow that will make itself felt throughout the length and 
breadth of the land, and shall be recounted as a great deed by 
generations yet unborn. My worthy friend there, the Queen's 
favourite physician. Monsieur Renaud,' he remarked pointedly, 
and with unmistakable significance, ' was the first to suggest 
to me that the Queen's Majesty suffered from a grievous 
malady.' Renaud knew what this pointed allusion meant 
It was intended to bring him prominently before the con- 
spirators as one of the pro|Misers of the deed, so that he at any 
rate should have no chance of escape in the event of revela- 
tions being made. 

'I asked him,' Bothwell continued, 'what was a fitting 
remedy for the Queen's malady, and he hesitated not to say 
the taking off of the King was the only remedy likely to be 
effectual' 



214 BASILE THE JESTER 

Renaud winced, and scowled defiantly at his antagonist, 
against whom his hatred strengthened. But determining not 
to let Bothwell have all the say, he smiled bitterly and 
remarked : 

' My Lord of Bothwell will pardon me for setting him right 
Accurate in most things, his memory has somewhat failed him 
on this important point. It is true I told him the Queen's 
Majesty was sorely afflicted, whereupon my Lord Bothwell 
suggested that the King might be the cause, to which I 
assented ; and then my lord desired to know if I had no 
potent drug that would cure this King malady from which 
her Majesty suffered. But I was fain to answer him no ; 
whereat he was angered, and expressed himself that it were 
better for the Queen's peace if the King should be taken to 
heaven.' 

Bothwell writhed under this lashing, and he felt that he 
was bearded by one who feared him not, and who was destined 
to be a standing menace in his path, unless he could remove 
hinL He did not show his anger, but he made reply with 
cutting irony : 

' Monsieur Renaud is such a worthy gentleman, and withal 
so very honest, that he desires not to rob me of the honour 
of having proposed this plot, in which he has already taken 
such an active part. But his exceeding great modesty will, I 
am sure, not prevent you, my friends, from bestowing the 
honour where the honour is due.' 

Renaud flashed fiery red at this home-thrust, and would 
probably have made an angry retort had not Laird James of 
Ormiston interposed by exclaiming : 

'A truce to these recriminations, gentlemen. It is mere 
childishness. We have great business on hand. Let us 
despatch it like men.' 

This timely remark stilled the rising tempest for a time, 
and Bothwell proceeded to allot to each conspirator the part 
he had to play in the dreadful nocturnal tragedy. A few 
hours later several of the conspirators stole cautiously from 
the palace carrying with them bags of gunpowder. They 
went as far as Blackfriars Wynd, where they delivered up 
their burdens to other conspirators, who were waiting, and 
by them they were borne to Balfour's house, in Kirk-o*-Fields, 
where Paris was ready to receive them. In the meantime the 
Queen^ Bothwell* Renaud and Qthers had ^ne to the house| 



BEARDED BY ONE WHO FEARED HIM NOT 215 

and were sitting with the King, in the room beneath which 
the |)owder was being emptied in hea|)s on the Hoor ready for 
the fatal moment when the torch shouhl be applied. 

It was ten o'clock when Paris entered the King's chamber, 
his ap|)earance being tlie signal that all was prepared. Then 
the Queen informed her husband that she had promised to 
attend a mascjuerade given in Holyrood Palace in honour of 
the marriage of two of her favourite servants. She took 
farewell of him, and, in company with Bothwell and the 
members of her household, she proceeded to the palace by 
torchlight. 

Daniley was stricken with grief and secret fear as he saw 
her de|)art, for some presentiment of his coming doom seemed 
to weigh heavily uyton him. He was strangely restless and 
unhappy, and turned to the Bible for consolation, and having 
read one of the most beautiful of the Psalms, he went to becl 
and fell asleep, a young {>age by the name of Taylor lying in 
the same apartment with him. 

While the King thus slept, all unconscious of the danger 
that menaced him, the ball in the {mlace pn>ceeded merrily, 
and Bothwell, attired in a costly costume of black velvet and 
satin, danced a minuet with the Queen, and remained until 
near midnight. Then he stole away, and changed his rich 
clothes for a dress of common homespun, and left his a{)art- 
ments in com|>any with Uennud, Paris and other confederates. 
They went stealthily down the staircase which led from Holy- 
rood into the Queen's ganlen, and directed their course to 
the southern gate. The gate was guarded by two sentinels, 
who, suq>rised to see a |)arty of men coming along this 
unusual path at so late an hour, cried out : 

' Who goes there ?* 

* Friends,* answered ont' of the conspirators. 

' Whose friends ?' 

' Friends of Lonl liothwelL' 

' Pass, friends of I x>r.l Bothwell,* said the soldiers, as they 
grounded their hackbuts. 

The confederates 1,-ft the palace behind them, and pro- 
cceiled up the Canongate to the Netherbow gate, which they 
found shut, but the gatekee|>er was commanded to '(>|K*n 
the post to friends of Lonl Ik>thwell.' and this conmiand being 
complied with they |>assed on. When they reached Black- 
friars Wynd, Bothwell^ Uenaud and Paris left the others, and 



216 BASILE THE JESTER 

proceeded alone to Kirk-o'-Fields, and on reaching the house 
where the King was lodged, Bothwell and Paris concealed 
themselves in the garden, and Renaud, by pre-<irrangenient, 
entered the house by means of the false keys. He had been 
told off to see that no hitch had occurred, and that the two 
murderers who were concealed within the house did their 
work effectually. These men were Hepburn and Hay, of 
Galls, and as it had been considered probable that the 
explosion might not kill the King, these two men were 
deputed to strangle him and the page Taylor. Bothwell had 
another and sinister motive in sending Renaud in, and this 
was no other than to destrov Renaud also. The Earl had 
made a compact with Hepburn and Hay that when Renaud 
entered some excuse was to be framed to induce him to go 
into the cellar, and once in, the door was to be fastened upon 
him, and he would thus be involved in the explosion. 

It was a very dark night, and the air seemed to be filled 
with sobbing sounds hke those which in certain states of the 
atmosphere manifest themselves before rain. Renaud entered 
cautiously. All was silent as the grave. There was no light 
save that afforded by the feeble rays of the night lamps which 
burned in the King's room, and there being no door at the 
bottom of the stairs communicating with the upper and lower 
part of the house, the gleam of the lamp was visible. 

The two hired men were lying on the floor in the lower 
room, but they rose noiselessly as their accomplice came in, 
and they entered into whispered conversation with him. They 
then induced him to go into the cellar to bring up a bag of 
powder, which they said had been left there. While he went 
on this errand they were to steal upstairs and perform their 
hideous work. Renaud groped his way to the cellar, where he 
was about to strike a light with flint and steel, in order to see 
where the powder was. But before he could do this the door 
was suddenly closed, and when he tried to open it he found it 
was fastened. Instantly a clammy horror seized him, for he 
knew that he had been trapped and would be killed like a rat 
in a cage. 

No sooner had the two men thus caught their victim than 
they hurried upstairs. They were excited, and no doubt made 
more noise than they intended, for the King was aroused, and 
realizing instantly that treachery was at work, he sprang out 
of bed in his shirt and pelisse and endeavoured to force his 



BEARDED BY ONE WHO FEARED HIM NOT 217 

way past the assa-ssins. But they seized him instantly, and 
with ferocious fury strangled him. Disturlied by the commo- 
tion, the page rose up in his bed, and, frenzied with horror, 
tried to scream out, but he was seized and throttled before he 
could cry or make the slightest resistance. 

The ghastly work being so far completed, the assassins 
carried their victims down and deposited their bodies in an 
orchard close by. Hepburn then returned into the house and 
lighted the match *which communicated with the powder, and 
then he hurried out to join Bothwell and the others, and they 
all retired for some distance to await the effects of the explo- 
sion. It was nearly a quarter of an hour before it occurred, 
for the match had been timed to bum for at least ten minutes. • 

Bothwell was deeply agitated, for this night's work would 
make him or mar him. The King was dead, so that between 
him and the Queen there was no longer a barrier, and his 
passionate ambition might at last be gratified. The only 
enemy he now feared was Renaud, and he was imprisoned in 
the cellar, and in another few minutes he would be blown to 
fragments. Then, if all went well and no awkward revelation 
should be made, the wicked and designing Earl would share 
the throne with the Queen and gain the power he craved. 
But the little word ' if ' stood in the way, and it was destined 
to wreck all his hopes. Cold as the night was he was bathed 
in profuse perspiration, and he took off his bonnet that the 
air might blow u|)on his hot throbbing tem))les. Then sud- 
denly the solid earth seemed to trembU ; a mass of dazzling 
white flame burst forth in the darkness, and out of its midst 
rose a huge, dense blood-red cloud of smoke. The powder 
had done its work. I'he King was slain, the house was 
wrecked, and a deed had been done that night that was 
destined for evermore to form a dark page in Scotland's 
history. 

As soon as the explosion had taken place the confederates 
hurried back to the palace, being challenged as l>efore, but 
gaining admittance without let or hindrance. Bothwell went 
to his room, and swallowed at a draught a huge beaker of 
wine. Then hastily undressing, he flung himself, tired and 
weary^ on his bed and tried to sleeps 



218 BASILE THE JESTER 

CHAPTER XLV. 

'l GRASP THE SCEPTRE AT LAST.* 

Lord Bothwell wooed sweet sleep in vain. He was weary 
with long watching, jaded with extraordinary physical exer- 
tion, and haggard with keen mental anxiety, and yet the rest 
he so much needed he could not obtain. His brain was in a 
whirl, as well it might be ; nevertheless he experienced a sense 
of fleeting joy as he contemplated that awful night's work. 
His opponent and the man he feared, Renaud, was dead ; so 
also was the King. And now the Queen's hand and throne 
should be his, though he had to wade through a river of blood 
to reach thenL 

Thus he thought as he lay there feverish and restless, and 
longing for the oppressive darkness to pass away, and for the 
daytight to come. 

Presently, with startling suddenness, the echoes were 
awakened by a hammering on his door. The Earl turned 
pale as he rose up and listened. He was a daring man and 
fearless ; but now that impatient knocking somehow sent a 
chill over him, and produced a fluttering sensation at his 
heart The knocking was repeated with more energy, more 
impatience. 

What could it mean at such an hour ? To the Earl it was 
full of import, and seemed to menace him with deadly danger. 
He sprang from his bed as for the third time the knocker 
thundered at the door. The Earl seized in one hand his long 
rapier, which he always kept beside his bed, and in the other 
his night lamp. Then he flung the door open, and beheld a 
ghost holding a flaming torch, whose light filled the room with 
a weird glare, and called strange shadows into being. That is 
to say, it was a ghost if Monsieur Renaud was dead, for the 
figure was that of Renaud. His face was pale as marble. His 
lips were curled with a contemptuous meaning smile, and his 
eyes were filled with a look of fierce hate. 

Bothwell visibly staggered, and for an instant losing his 
presence of mind and habitual coolness, he cried in a hollow 
voice : 

' Who art thou } Comest thou from the grave ?' 

The bitter, cynical smile of the figure's face deepened into 



•I GRASP THE SCEPTRE AT LAST* 21 J) 

a sneer, aiici there came the answer with provoking cool- 
ness : 

' My Lonl Bothwell, the King's house is blown up, and I 
trow the King is slain.' 

Ik>thwell knew then that it was Renaud in the flesh who 
spoke, and his presence of mind and coolness retumeil. 

' (lad's truth !' he exclaimed, as he instantly commenced to 
dress himself, 'but this is sorry news an thou art serious. 
There is treason abroad and we must see to it. Rouse the 
palace, Monsieur Renaud. I will join you anon.' 

Not to be outdone by the other's coolness and impudence, 
Renaud answered : 

' (><kk1, mv lord. We must make effort to discover the 
villains who have done this thing. An 1 mistake not the 
executioner will have a busy time of it erelong. To slay a 
King is a mighty crime and must not go unpunished.' 

Bothwell felt that he was l>eing thrashed with his own whip, 
that the bold man before him was virtually his master, and 
certainly his equal in audacity and skill in villainy. But, 
nevertheless, he knew that to o{>enly quarrel with him would 
be a very dangen)us proceeding. A man so proficient in 
cunning must be met by cunning. An eagle was not to be 
caught by a limed twig. Bothwell had congratulated himself 
that Renaud had accompanied the King into the next world. 
Yet here he was solid and sound in the fiesh, to the Earl's 
mortification and chagrin. But he did not show his chagrin, 
he knew that would betray weakness, nor did he directly or 
indirectly seek to know how his op|)onent had esca|K*d from 
the trap in which he seemed to have been so securely caught. 

The significance of Renaud's wonls was not lost u|)on I^>th- 
well, who said as the other was turning away, ' Monsieur, I 
owe thee a debt of gratitude. Thou hast proved thyself staunch 
and faithful in the |>ast ; be no less so in the future, and by 
my right hand I swear that when I am King thou shalt be little 
less than I !' 

The marble face of Renaud lighted up with an expression of 
triumphant malice, as, raising the torch above his head so that 
its flickering glare brtnight his enemy into bold relief, he said 
in slow, emphatic, and {xiinted words : ' My lonl of Bothwell, 
thy tongue, like thy heart, is false as hell. When thou art 
King there will be one still more powerful in this Court. I 
shall be that one. I, Renaud, whom thou wished to have sent 



220 BASILE THE JESTER 

after the King; but, thanks to the rottenness of the bolts 
wherewith thy slaves would have unprisoned me and the 
strength of mine own shoulders, I burst my prison just in time 
to escape the journey and thwart thy machinations.' 

Both well was a little disconcerted, but he kept his counte- 
nance, and, continuing to dress himself with the utmost cool- 
ness, made answer ; 

' Good Master Renaud, the road you and I would travel is 
broad enough for us both. Let us not elbow each other. 
Thou hast come to years of discretion ; see to it that thy tongue 
be wise, and doubt not that thy dearest wish and thy loftiest 
ambition shall be gratified. Do me the favour of alarming the 
palace, an it be not already alarmed, and we wOl investigate 
this dreadful business. In a quarter of an hour we will to the 
Queen's Majesty to report the sad news.' 

Renaud made no reply by words, but his looks declared 
what his thoughts were. He turned away, and in a short 
time there were excitement and commotion throughout the 
palace, and the word 'Treason* flew from lip to lip, until there 
was the clang of steel and the clash of arms as the soldiers 
and guards buckled on their armour. The Queen, roused by 
her female attendants, rose from her bed and hastily attired 
herself in a loose robe. She was deadly pale, and looked 
haggard and careworn, and when a few minutes later she 
admitted to her presence Lord Bothwell, the Earl of Huntly, 
and Renaud she was visibly trembling, and so agitated that 
her maids had to support her to a seat. 

Bothwell, who was bareheaded, knelt on one knee before 
her, and bowing his head so that she could not see his face, 
he said: 

' Your Majesty, it is my sad duty, as your Majesty's humble 
and dutiful servant, to convey to your Majesty a sad and 
heavy piece of news, which cutteth me to the heart to have 
the telling o£ ' 

' Speak out, my Lord of Bothwell,' cried the Queen in alarm, 
as Bothwell paused. ' What is it thou hast to tell ? Has 
there been treason done ?* 

' Ay, in truth, your Majesty ; treason of a foul and odious 
type. Some desperate villains have made a sorrowful day for 
your Grace, and have taken off your royal husband.' 

' Murdered him ?' the Queen gasped^ while her face blanched 
to snowy whiteness. 



'I GRASP THE SCEPTRE AT LAST* 221 

'Even so, your Majesty. He hath been cruelly done to 
death, and, as I am informed, the house wherein he was lodged 
hath been blown into the air.' 

At this information her Majesty gave a groan and swooned, 
leaving Renaud and the maids to give attention to the Queen, 
Bothwell hastily withdrew, a cold smile playing about his thin 
lips. Then, with consummate audacity, he collected a large 
body of soldiers, and repaired with them to the scene of the 
crime. A tremendous crowd had gathered in Kirk-'o-Fields. 
They filled the orchard, where the bodies still lay, and examined 
with idle curiosity the still smoking ruins of the wrecked 
house. 

As soon as Bothwell came upon the scene he dispersed the 
crowd with brutal harshness, ordering his soldiers to ride over 
those who were tardy in getting out of the way. This done, 
he had the bodies of the King and the page lifted and wrapped 
in a sheet, and conveyed them into a neighbouring house, a 
strong guard being placed, with instructions not to allow any- 
one under any circumstances whatever to examine the coqwes. 
Then he rode back to the palace. He was gloomy and silent; 
but once his habitual cold smile spread itself over his pale face^ 
and he muttered to himself: 

' I grasp the sceptre at last T 



CHAPTER XLVI. 

THE MOCK TRIAL. 

Ir the Queen really experienced any sorrow at the death of 
Damlcy she soon got over it, though for a time she aflTected to 
be deeply cast down, and would admit no one but Bothwell 
into her presence. Public indignation soon l>egan to make 
itself heaitl like the mutterings of a rising storm, and an<mymous 
placards were posted about in which Bothwell was openly 
accused of the murder, and several of the Queen's 8<*rvants 
and followers were named as accomplices, amongst them being 
Renaud. 

Alarmed by the manifest signs of the people's wrath, the 
Queen quitted Edinburgh in company with Bothwell and a 
strong guard, and took up her residence at Seton Gistle, the 
princely residence of Lonl Seton. From here she despatched 



222 BASILE THE JESTER 

a special messenger to request the return of Adrienne de Bois, 
Hasile the Jester^ and Fran9ois. 

Adrienne de Bois lost no time in obeying the summons, but 
Basile, for certain reasons, refused to return. Fran9ois, in 
accordance with a promise he had made to his foster-mother, 
had communicated with her, and so she immediately sent him 
word of the Queen's wishes, and prayed him, in his own 
interests, to go at once to Seton Castle, as her Majesty desired. 

Amongst those who availed themselves of the state of public 
feeling to return to the capital, in defiance of her Majesty's 
orders, was Bomcester, the old fanatic. He relied on the 
indignation that had been stirred up against the Court to live 
secure from the Queen's anger. He felt sure that in the then 
state of popular opinion he would have no difficulty in rallying 
around him a number of powerful followers. Nor was he 
mistaken, and he very soon found himself at the head of a 
strong party, whose hatred for Catholicism and anger against the 
Queen and Bothwell made them dangerous. Bomcester began 
at once to intrigue, and he was instrumental in issuing a 
proclamation which was secretly affixed on the cross in the 
market-place. In this bill Bothwell and the Queen were 
openly accused of being accessories to the murder of the King. 
The proclamation wound up with an exhortation to the 
populace to ' fast and pray,' and it called on God to ' reveal 
and revenge.' 

When Bothwell heard of this he became furious ; and select- 
ing fifty of his most redoubtable warriors, they armed themselves 
to the teeth, and then, bestriding powerful horses, they rode, 
with Bothwell at their head, to Edinburgh, his object being to 
intimidate the people. Collecting his warriors around him at 
the Market Cross, he publicly declared that if he could dis- 
cover the authors of the proclamation he would ' wash his hands 
in their blood.' A surging multitude had gathered in the 
streets, but no one dared molest those stem soldiers, although 
muttered threats were heard, and the smouldering anger 
displayed itself occasionally by groans and hisses. 

Although for a moment Bothwell had cowed the people, he 
had by no means stilled their tongues, and, urged by Bomcester, 
they soon grew louder tlian ever in their denunciations. 

The Earl of Lennox, the father of the murdered Darnley, 
was stricken with grief and burning with indignation, and he 
made repeated applications to the Queen that the persons 



MaNAM 



THE MOCK TRIAL 223 

suspected of the crime should be put upon their trial, and at 
last, so imfxirtunate did he become that her Majesty consented 
that I^rd Both well should he arraigned. 

From the first, however, it was intended that this trial 
should be a mere farce, though it was hoped that by making a 
show of justice the anger of the populace would be ap|K*ased. 

In due course the trial o|)ened at the Tolbooth, and the 
tribunal was presided over by the Earl of Argyle, who had 
l>een a |>arty to the munler, but who was at this time Ix)rd 
High Justice. He himself was guanled by two hundred hack- 
butters, while four thousand of Bothwell's retainers, anned to 
the teeth, mustered in the squares and the streets leading to the 
Court-house. An angry crowd surged restlessly, like a storm- 
lashed sea, in the princi{)a1 streets, while open menaces and 
deejKtoned threats were uttered, but the formidable array of 
force which the accused Earl had gathered together overawed 
the people, who, nevertheless, would have risen in a body and 
deluged the gutters with blocKl had they been boldly led by 
daring men ; but these leaders were not forthcoming, and so 
the lowering stonn did not break. 

The accused Ik)thwell rode up to the Court in |x>mp and 
state. He was mounte<l on a su|>erb gray horse that had 
lK*longed to the deceased King, and had been a great favourite 
with him. It was gaily trap|>ed with scarlet cloth, trimmed 
with gold fringe. Ik)thwell wore a silver breast plate over a 
buff jerkin that was slashed with red. And he had on long 
yellow riding boots, ornamented with gold spurs. Although 
nominally he was a priM»ner, it was noticed that he wore a f(»r- 
midable djigger at his belt, and surrounding him was a troop 
of his most trusted soldiers. 

As he nxle along, his |mle face Ix^traying contempt and 
sconi, he l)owed deHantly now and again to the crowd, but 
when (icie or two lN>lder spirits than the rest ventured to hoot 
at him, his eyes flashed angrily, and he seemed inclined to 
order his men to ride over the mob. But he checked himself 
fortunately, for there is little doubt slaughter would have 
ensued. 

The public accuser of the Fjirl of Both well was the Earl of 
I^nnox, father of the munlered King ; but when cm his way 
to the Court with a large gathering of friends, a (Queen's 
messenger was desfNitched to him to say he would not be 
allowecl to enter the city with more than six retainers. On 



224 BASILE THE JESTER 

receipt of this order he saw at once the utter uselessness of 
persevering in his charge, and resolutely refused to appear at 
the Court unless all his friends accompanied him. Neverthe- 
less he sent forward one of his confidential retainers, named 
Robert Cunningham, instructing him to publicly state the 
reason that Lennox could not appear, and to sustain the 
charge against the accused. Although Cunningham was 
listened to, it was ruled that his charge in the absence of 
Lennox could not be upheld, and Bothwell having pleaded 
not guilty, he was unanimously acquitted, the announcement 
being received by his partisans in Court with uproarious 
cheering. When the tumult ceased, however, there rose up 
in the pubhc |)art of the Court a strange figure — the figure of 
a grim, grizzled, gaunt old man, with white cadaverous face, 
around which circled long rusty gray locks of hair. His eyes, 
deep sunk in his head and underlined by dark shadows, seemed 
to glitter like burnished steel, as raising his thin arm aloft, 
with the long index finger pointing heavenward, he cried out 
in a sepulchral voice : 

' Woe is this day, woe is this day ; and the wrath of the 
Lord will of a surety smite this sinful city. The King's 
murderer and the Queen's seducer stands there, and yet you 
have let him free of any penalty for his great crimes. Shame 
on you for deceitful knaves ! I call the Lord to witness that 
you are false to your oaths, and that you are aiders and 
abettors of that blood-stained criminal. The Queen and her 
followers are corrupt ; her Court is a sink of iniquity, and the 
vengeance of the Lord will fall upon them !' 

The speaker was Bomcester, the fanatic. His strange ap- 
pearance and bold words startled ever}'one, even Bothwell's 
face blanching. Instantly there ensued a scene of excitement 
and confusion, and m a deep coarse voice Bothwell thundered 
out: 

' Is there no one who will break the mazard of that mad fool 
who thus reviles the sacred person of our beloved Queen and 
mocks the solemnity of this Hall of Justice ?* 

Instantly a dozen of his followers drew their weapons and 
endeavoured to force their way to the spot where old 
Bomcester still stood in an attitude of defiance, and with both 
his long, scraggy arms raised above his head, as if he were 
calling down a curse upon his op]>onents. 

All was now uproar. The Court guards vainly tried to 



THE MOCK TRIAL 225 

preserve order, but the air was filled with the shrieks of women 
and the angr}' prowls of men, and the crowd struf^gled furiously 
to get out, fearing injur}' at the hands of the on-pressing 
soldiers. Bothwell himself sprang forward amongst his men, 
and, unsheathing his dagger, endeavoured to reach Bomcester, 
who undoubtedly would have fallen a prey to the fury he 
had evoked had not a young man, clad in a buff jerkin and 
trunk-hose, and with his face partially concealed by massive 
curls that completely covered the forehead and eyes, elbowed 
his way forward by a supreme effort, and, seizing Boracester, 
dragged him down into the struggling crowd, who when they 
found that the old man was being rescued gave way, and 
allowed the rescuer and the fanatic to get clear off. So great 
was the excitement and confusion, and so deafening the uproar, 
that no orders could be heard, and though Bothwell and his 
men tried to press forward they failed to make way against 
the solid human barrier, and at last Bothwell, seeing Bomcester 
disappear in the struggling mass, deemed it prudent not to 
render the already incensed people still more furious by 
spilling blood. He therefore signalled to his followers to 
restrain themselves. The young man was thus enabled to get 
Bomcester into the street, and then he hurried him along until 
they reached a quiet and deserted square, where, panting and 
exhausted, the old man stopped, and leaned wearily against 
the iron railings of a house. 

' l*hy indiscretion has come near costing thee thy life,' said 
the rescuer. 'Thou art safe so far. Go thy ways, and be 
wiser in the future !* 

Pale as ' pale death,' and weak and trembling in all his 
limbs, the fanatic, his eyes glaring with an unnatural light, 
drew himself up with difficulty, and in a voice all aquiver he 
answered : 

' 1 am doing the service of the Ix)rd, and I have no fear. 
These Papists are an abomination in the land, and a fiery 
sword from heaven shall smite them hip and thigh. Rotten- 
ness and corruption are everywhere, and fire and blood alone 
can purge them away. The people groan under an iron 
bondage that is cankering into their ver}' souls ; but they shall 
rend their shackles and hurl these iniquitous nobles and the 
shameless Queen to perdition. But tell me who thou art? 
Thou hast rendered me some service, and I fain would reward 
thee. If thou art poor I will bestow a coin u|)on thee, and if 

15 



226 BASILE THE JESTER 

thou needest not that^ then thou shalt have such poor thanks 
as I can give thee. Come, tell me thy name !' 

The young man seemed to hesitate for some moments. 
Then, with a sudden impulse, he dashed the mass of false hair 
from his forehead, and removing his cap, exclaimed : 

' Thou knowest me well ! I am Fraii9ois, and if thou art 
indebted to me I claim as my reward the hand of thy fair 
daughter, Lilian.' 

Bomcester wa« amazed, and tottered against the railings. 
Francois made a motion to assist him, but he steadied himself 
and answered : 

' Art thou in league with the evil one that thou wert able 
to appear at such a moment and do this thing ? Thy hand, 
boy ! I am glad to see thee I How fares it with thee, and 
whence comest thou }' 

' I am a waif, drifting hither and thither as fortune wills, 
my way lighted by one dazzling star, that star thy daughter !' 

' Thou art still hankering after my child,' said the fanatic, 
resuming his old domineering manner. ' But an thou wouldst 
win her, prove thy devotion by renouncing thy devil's creed, 
and by joining the ranks of those who are sworn to destroy 
the Queen and her foul Court !' 

' Sir,' said Francois proudly, ' I have saved thy life, and in 
return thou counselleth me to do outrage to my feelings and 
to be false to my Queen !' 

' Thou hast perhaps saved my life, and since thou art poor I 
will reward thee. Come to my house, and thou shalt have 
a T)iece of gold ; but my daughter is not for one who ser\'es 
Satan r 

Francois drew himself up proudly, and with scorn and con- 
tempt in his tone and manner he made answer : 

' Keep thy gold, I would not touch it Thou promised to 
give me Lilian for my wife. Thou hast broken that promise, 
and I want naught else from thee. Farewell.* He turned 
and hurried away, and though old Bomcester called to him, he 
either did not heed or did not hear, for, turning a comer, he 
was speedily lost to sight. 

' He is wilful and wa\*wanl, but the Lord will chasten him, 
the Lord will chasten him,' the fanatic muttered, as with 
tottering stei)s he went towards his house. 



•GENTLEMEN, I DRINK TO YOU* 227 



CHAPTER XLVII. 

'gentlemen, I DRINK TO YOU. WHEN NEXT WE ASSEMBLE I 
TRUST YOU WILL BE ABLE TO GREET ME AS YOUR KINO.' 

When Botliwoll found that the- strange old man who had 
caused the disturbance in the Court had been hustled away, 
he ceased to trouble himself further, and restrained his men 
from pursuing Homcester, who, by the way, had not been 
recognise<l by any of the officials. Most of the general public, 
however, knew him, and not only applauded his boldness, but 
assisted in his escape. 

Bothwell's acquittal, while it did not cause surprise to tiie 
majority of the |>eople, who knew |>erfectly well that his 
judges were corrupt, pnKluced nevertheless a feeling of deep 
exas|)eration, although no one dare show this feeling then. 
But there were those who, if they were silent, were none the 
less determinetl, and secret oaths were registered that day 
which IxmK^I ill for the future |>eace of the unfortunate Queen 
and her guilty favourite. Mary lost no time in showing o])enly 
that she was infatuated with the Karl of Bothwell, and not 
only did she raise him in [X)wer, by giving him the lordship and 
castjr of Dunbar, but she extended liis power as High Admiral. 
His erafl and ambition, however, were not satisfied. He aimed 
still higher. From the very first he cast his eyes on the thrcme, 
and nothing short of that goal would satisfy his aspirations. 
He was determined to marr^- the Queen, and with that end in 
view he set to work to obbiin a divorce from his lawful wife, 
I^v Jane (tonlon, her own brother, the Karl of Huntlv, con- 
sriiting to, and alK*tting in, this infamous pnK*eeding, on con- 
flition that certain estates which had been confiscated should 
be rcston*d to him. 

.Meantime, the (jueen, bliiide<l by her guilty |)assion, be- 
cjime utterly inditfcrent to the prayers and entreaties of many 
of her loyal subjects who loved her, and who, fi>reseeiiig the 
danger in which she was placing herself, hesitated not to 
warn her. Amongst those who s|>oke freely was Adrienne de 
Bois. She had returned in obedience to the (Queen's sum- 
mons, and being restored to her former confidential position, 
she cautioned the (Jueen against Bothwell. Her Majesty 
listened im|>atiently to these warnings, but was in no way 



228 BASILE THE JESTER 

influenced by them. She expressed great indignation and 
some anger that Francois had chosen to ignore her summons 
to return^ and she commanded Adrienne to communicate with 
him^ and bid him come back ; on his failing to do so^ perpetual 
banishment from the kingdom would be pronounced against 
him. Neither the Queen's commands nor his foster-mother's 
entreaties, however, availed with Francois, who for many 
reasons resolved to keep away from the Court for the present, 
the most potent of these reasons, perhaps, being the con- 
viction that if he returned he must for ever abandon hope of 
gaining Lilian. Moreover, he felt that he could not possibly 
play the hypocrite any longer by keeping up the fiction of 
being the son of Renaud, whom he detested and loathed now 
for his duplicity and guilty intrigues. 

Since her return to the Court, Adrienne had studiously 
avoided Renaud, and had openly expressed her dislike of him 
to the Queen, who was also prejudiced on account of the 
warnings she had so mysteriously received. In fact, Bothwell 
himself was desirous of getting Renaud out of the way, and 
so lost no opportunity of turning the Queen's mind against 
him. But Renaud was not so easily shaken off. He knew 
his power, and was determined to hold his own in the face 
of all. 

One day the Queen informed him that she intended to 
despatch him on a special mission to the Court of France. 
This project had been suggested to her by Bothwell, who 
deemed it the safest way to get rid of his rival. But Renaud 
was too cute to be deceived by any such shallow device, and 
he made answer to her Majesty : 

' I am conscious, your Grace, of the high honour you would 
confer upon me, and of the confidence you repose in me ; but, 
your Majesty, I am unfitted for this special mission, and I 
crave you select from your Court someone more able to carry 
out your Majesty's commands.' 

' How now, sirrah !' cried the Queen, in high dudgeon. 
• Dost thou dare to refuse compliance with our royal com- 
mands ?' 

' I simply decline, with deep respect, the honour your 
Grace wishes to do me,' Renaud replied firmly. 

'ITien thou art no longer our servant, and will leave 
our Court instantly,' exclaimed her Majesty with burning 
anger. 



'GENTLEMEN, I DRINK TO YOU* 229 

'No, your Grace,* answered Renaud, with iniperturbal>1e 
demeanour. ' I remain here ; for an I go I drag donin your 
favourite, the ELarl of Bothwell, with me. I have such evi- 
dence in my possession that a word from me would cause 
your Majesty's restless subjects to rend him to pieces, and 
possibly hurl even your Majesty from your throne.' 

Tlie Queen grew deadly pale at these bold words. She 
was humiliated and crushed ; but feeling that she was in this 
man's power, she recognised that it would be folly to quarrel 
with him, so she merely remarked : 

' Have a care, sirrah, or thy base insinuations may bring 
thee into trouble. Leave our presence, and we will select 
someone more worthy to do our mission.' 

This was the first time the Queen had openly shown anger 
towards Renaud, and she resolved from that moment to en- 
deavour to render him harmless, and by some means to 
deprive him of his power. He on his part was by no means 
disconcerted. With infinite conceit in himself, and a belief 
that his knowledge of the King's murder gave him absolute 
power, he smiled as he left the Queen's presence, and thought 
to himself, ' You are a puppet, madame ; and for a puppet 
you use unpardonable language. We who wield the power 
will teach you your proper place.' 

This was bold and daring for a man of his origin, and con- 
trasted strangely with his humbleness on that night in Paris, 
when in the wretched garret near Notre Dame, and in the 
presence of the dead woman, he resolved to use to his own 
aggrandisement the secret her death placed in his possession. 
During the years that had passed he had never faltered in 
his purpose, until from a poverty-stricken waif he had risen 
to power and place, and was able to dictate to the Queen in 
her own palace. But her Majesty had come at last, and 
influenced no doubt by the recent warnings, to see how false 
he was, and how d: igerous to her peace and safety. 

Like most men who rise to position by fraud and deceit, 
Renaud began to forget that discretion was imperatively 
necessary in order to maintain that which he had won. 
Having had the impudence to defy the (jiiccn, he resolved 
on subduing Adrienne, and compelling her to become his 
wife ; and having failed to get her to grant h m an intrr\'iew, 
he conceived the idea of carrying her off with the aid of his 
creature Bastian and, by imprisoning her somewhere, com|)el- 



230 BASILE THE JESTER 

ling her to consent to his wishes. The opportunity for doing 
thiS; however, was not favourable at present. But he nursed 
the scheme, and determined to put it into execution at no 
distant date. 

While the adventurer Renaud was thus tr^'ing to consolidate 

his o¥m position, and to realize his ambitious schemes, the 

Earl of Bothwell was pursuing a precisely similar course in 

regard to himself. These two men hated each other with 

venomous hatred, and yet each was afraid to show it. Renaud, 

on his part, manifested the most obsequious and fulsome 

fawning towards his rival, but this was only to gain his ends. 

The Earl, on the other hand, was austere and patronizing, but 

watched for the chance to have the man whom of all others 

he most hated secretly assassinated. Renaud was no doubt 

aware of the danger in which he stood, for not only did he 

wear a steel shirt beneath his clothes, but he never went 

about without being well armed, while his creature Bastian 

followed him like a shadow. The devotion of this man for 

his master was one of those human riddles which are not 

easily solved. Bastian regarded his employer almost in the 

light of a demi-god, and was ready at any moment to peril 

his own life in his behalf. But it must be remembered that 

the Italian was a mere human animal, with no other desires 

than to pander to and satisfy the lowest instincts of his 

nature ; and as Renaud allowed him to do this to the fullest 

extent, the man had much of the dog's fidelity for its master. 

Bastian was too illiterate, too small-brained to comprehend any 

of the great problems of life. He was a mere savage, and 

had all the cunning and ferocity peculiar to the savage. In 

this respect, therefore, he was a valuable tool, and Renaud 

knew only too well how to use him ; and together these two 

concocted a plot to carrj' off Adrienne de Bois. She, on her 

part, had come to dread him, and avoided him in every 

possible way, more especially as she had pledged herself to 

become the wife of Basile the Jester. Had she not been 

recalled to the Court she would have been married before 

this, but obeying that call out of her love and friendship for 

the Queen, and finding that she could not persuade him to 

return so long as Renaud was there, she left him with a 

solemn promise to be his, and to endeavour to get her Majesty 

to consent to the union. 

This, then, was the position of affairs at the Court of Queen 



•GENTLEMEN, 1 DRINK TO YOU* 231 

Maiy, as she, blinded by infatuation^ inarched on to her doom ; 
and Both well, cold-blooded and unscrupulous as he was, was 
determined to share the throne with her. Society from the 
highest to the lowest was undermined by secret intrigue. 
Every man's hand seemed to be against his neighbour ; 
justice was a burlesque, and there was no protection for 
either life or property. Elizabeth of England, actuated by 
jealousy and hatred, was plotting against Mary of Scotland, 
whose kingdom was disorganized, and whose people were in 
a state little short of anarchy. And taking advantage of all 
this, the audacious Bothwell, with autocratic despotism, made 
a veritable coup tTetat in order to gain the power he was 
craving for. Acconlingly he took advantage of the rising of 
Parliament to invite some of the most powerful nobles in the 
.land to a supper which was given in a tavern in Edinburgh, 
louring the progress of the fe&st, two hundred of Bothwell's 
staunchest hackbutters surrounded the house by prearrange- 
ment with their master, who then rose, and producing a 
written warrant which he stated was written by the hand of 
the Queen, and empowered him to inform the nobility that 
she had selected him for her husband, he asked them to ratify 
that by appending their names to the warrant. 

This announcement fell like a bombshell on the entrap[)ed 
and astonished noblemen, and a scene of extraordinary con- 
fusion ensued. Swords and daggers were drawn, and an 
attempt w&s made by some of the company to leave the room, 
but ])()thwell sprang on to a stool, and in stentorian tones 
cried out : 

' My lords and gentlemen, escape is impossible. The house 
is surrounded by a band of my most stalwart fighting men, 
and they have stringent orders to cut down anyone attempt- 
ing to leave. If you value your lives, therefore, bide where 
you are, and listen to reason.' 

Consternation fell upcm ever^'one present, but one and all, 
to their eternal disgrace, consented to sign the l)ond in which 
they declared their conviction of Bothwell's innocence, 
promised to defend him against all traducers, and recom- 
mended ' this noble and mighty lord ' as a suitable husband 
for the Queen, whose continuance in solitary widowhcMnl was, 
they said, injurious to the interests of the common wealth. 
They further engaged to maintain Bothwell's pretensions to 
the Queen's hand with their lives and fortunes, and if they 



23^ BASILE THE JESTER 

failed to perform their promise^ to pass for men devoid of 
honour and loyalty^ and as unworthy traitors.* 

Amongst those who ap[)ended their signatures to this in- 
famous document were the Bishops of St Andrew's, Aberdeen, 
Dumblane, Brechin, Ross, and Orkney, besides many leading 
nobles of the land. 

When Bothwell had thus eflfectcd his purpose, by a boldness 
and audacity which were worthy of the man, he folded the 
precious paper up and secured it in the breast of his doublet. 
Then he filled a beaker with wine, and with brazen impudence 
said: 

'Gentlemen, I drink to you. When next we assemble, I 
trust you will be able to greet me as your king.' 

The day was dawning before the nobles separated. Many 
of them were muddled with the fumes of wine, whilst others 
were depressed and sullen at having been so humiliated ; but 
all, except Bothwell's partisans, felt that they had done out- 
rage to their consciences, that the future was dark, and that 
that night's work boded ill for the distracted kingdom. 

In the pearl-gray light of the dawning day the Earl ot 
Bothwell, escorted by a troop of his soldiers, wended his way 
to his lodgings, chuckling with glee at the success of his plot, 
and congratulating himself on the near realization of his daring 
scheme. 

CHAPTER XLVIIL 
'twizt hope and feab. 

Basile the Jester experienced a considerable degree of un- 
easiness, not to say unhappiness, when Adrienne de Bois 
announced her intention of returning to the Court of Queen 
Mar}'. He naturally felt that the chances were that she might 
be lost to him ; and under any circumstances she could hardly 
escape annoyance at the hands of his old enemy, Renaud. 

During their stay in Berwick, the Jester had proved him- 
self one of the most devoted and chivalrous of lovers. He 
had pleaded to her to become his wife so that he might have 
the right to shield her from persecution, and she, yielding to 
this pleading, consented to an early marriage ; but subse- 

* Students of history need not be reminded that, strango and startling 
as is the incident here introdaoed, it is hiotorically true. 



TWIXT HOPE AND FEAR iS3 

quently she begged that the marriage might be delayed, as 
she was extremely anxious to have the Queen's sanction. 
When Adrienne heard that her Majesty had returned to her 
capital with restored |X)wer, she quite resolved at all hazards 
to go and see the Queen, and, throwing herself at her feet, 
crave forgiveness for any wrong she might have done. But 
before she could carry out this idea, she received infonnation 
that her Majesty wished her to go back. Adrienne was over- 
joyed at this, thinking that Basil e would return with her, and 
that as soon as ever the Queen's permission was obtained, 
which Adrienne did not doubt would be readily given, the 
marriage was to take place. 

Basil e, however, did not share her sanguine views, for he 
was absolutely certain that so long as Renaud enjoyed power 
his persecution would not ce&se. Besides, the Jester hated 
the man so intensely that he felt it a moral impossibility to 
live under the same roof with him. And so with bitter sorrow 
he said to Adrienne : 

' If you deem it your duty to go, no word of mine shall be 
uttered to influence you to remain here. I have a strong 
faith in you, and feel sure that you will remain true to your 
promise. You are pledged to me as my future wife, and that 
pledge you will respect. But for me to return would be to 
walk directly into the lion's den, and to render myself impo- 
tent to smite the smiter. Nay, can you doubt for a single 
moment that my enemy would of a certainty destroy my life 
by means of some of his hireling cut-throats ? This chance 
must not be given to him, and I must devote myself to seek- 
ing some means of tearing from him the mask of hypocrisy he 
h&s so long worn, and proclaiming him the knave and impostor 
he is. This thing I will do. How and when I know not yet, 
for until I have some substantial evidence that will cause me 
to be believed I must hold my peace.' 

Adrienne failed not to see the force of her lover's argument, 
and she was quite as anxious as he was that Renaud should be 
exposed, though she could not help thinking that the task, 
so far as Basile was concerned, was a hopeless one. Never- 
theless she agreed with the views he held, and so bidding him 
an affectionate farewell, and giving him assurance of her un- 
alterable affection, she set off for Edinburgh. 

When Ae had gone the poor Jester felt very dull and 
lonely ; the more so on account of the absence of Francois, 



234 BASILE THE JESTER 

who^ filled with romantic notions and a love of adventure, had 
got together a band of young men, numbering in all about 
a dozen, who, constituting them into a sort of vigilance 
committee, wandered about the country. The self-imposed 
mission of this little band was an ambitious one, inasmuch as 
it had for its object the detection of conspiracy directed against 
the Scottish Queen. Franc^ois's daring and loyalty had in- 
spired his companions, who thus, all unknown to her Majesty, 
exhibited warm devotion to her cause, although up to the 
present they had not accomplished much. Their plan of 
operation was to roam about the country' singly and in dis- 
guise, or not, as circumstances might determine. They sub- 
sisted as best they could, finding food and shelter in the 
taverns, or craving hospitality from the monasteries, or the 
charitably disposed. Periodically they met at a given rendez- 
vous, and recounted their adventures. 

Of this little band of adventurous youths Francois was a 
moving spirit and the acknowledged head. While in the pur- 
suit of his plan he had displayed marked ability, and a peculiar 
aptitude for adapting himself to circumstances and for over- 
coming difficulties. He had dogged the Queen's footsteps, all 
unknown to her of course, and was pleased to imagine that he 
was a sort of mysterious protector of her. He it was who, at 
Jedburgh, had penetrated to her private chamber and warned 
her against Renaud ; and it was one of his band and his inti- 
mate friend who, during the baptismal festivities at Stirling 
Castle, assumed the character of a mummer, and pretended to 
tell the Queen's fortune by the lines in her hand. Later still 
Francois was present at the Tolbooth during the trial of 
Bothwell, and was thus enabled to save old Bomcester from 
the fury of the Earl's soldiers. This latter adventure was 
especially welcome to Francois, who felt that it might be the 
means of strengthening his position in regard to Lilian, who 
was to him as a star that dazzled. For her sake he was pre- 
pared to dare anything ; and he resolved that if he had no 
chance of winning her, he would fling his life away in some 
mad adventure. Since leaving he had stolen back once to 
Berwick, where Lilian still remained, for her father did not 
deem it prudent to take her to Exiinburgh with him. And 
though between him and his sister there was little or no affec- 
tion, he had the most perfect faith in her as a sort of she 
dragon, who would watch over her charge with sleepless 



TWIXT HOPE AND FEAR 235 

vigilance ; and he believed that no mortal man would be able 
to approach Lilian save over Aunt Julie's body. But herein 
the old fanatic proved, as men have proved in all ages, that a 
woman has a weak spot which sooner or later is certain to be 
found out. Fran9ois had found this spot out in Aunt Julie, 
and by flattering her he had been enabled to overcome her 
scruples, and thus obtain an interview with Lilian. 

On the occasion referred to, when the youth had surrep- 
titiously gone back to Berwick, he had been enabled, thanks 
to dear old Aunt Julie, to enjoy a long interview with Lilian, 
during which they had renewed their vows to each other, and 
though she had declared that she would never become his 
wife without her father's consent, she gave him cold comfort 
by solemnly promising that if she could not become his wife, 
no other man should possess her. 

On this understanding Fran9oi8 tore himself away from his 
loved one, feeling that hope had dwindled to a mere flickering 
gleam, for to obtain Bomcester's consent, except on the con- 
ditions which the old fanatic had laid down, was not at all 
likely, while the conditions he imposed were such that 
Francois felt that he would rather die than accept. To re- 
nounce his religion and prove false to his Queen was too great 
a sacrifice to make, even though the reward was to be Lilian. 
He had to ask himself whether he should declare for Love or 
Queen, and he unhesitatingly pronounced for Queen, although 
in so doing he did not abandon all hope that he might still 
win his loved Lilian. 

Before taking his departure from Berwick he |)aid a visit 
to Basile, and from him learned that Adrienne had returned 
to the Court. This was by no means welcome news to the 
lad, who was painfully impressed with the idea that his good 
foster-mother was running great risk so long as Renaud 
remained at the Court ; for he did not doubt that Renaud, 
smarting under a sense of defeat and disappointment, would 
persecute her. In fact, his cowardly and spiteful nature might 
even prompt him to take her life in ortler to gratify his feel- 
ings of revenge. 

Although Francois did not impart his fears to Basile, he 
could not conceal the fact that he was much distressed, and 
he stated his determination to return to Txlinburgh and linger 
in the neighbourhood of the palace, in order that he might 
exercise some sort of watchfulness over his foster-mother. 



236 BASILE THE JESTER 

'If it were only possible to convince her Majesty how 
traitorous Renaud is/ Francois observed^ ' there might be hope 
and happiness for us all. But the Queen seems infatuated 
with him, and is blinded to his faults.' 

The youth did not know as he gave utterance to this 
thought that the Queen's faith in her erstwhile favourite had 
been considerably shaken, otherwise he might have felt 
lighter hearted as he set out for the capital. But he sternly 
resolved to do everything that mortal man might do to under- 
mine the power of Renaud ; and with the intimate knowledge 
which he possessed of the Court and the ways of the Queen, 
he began to think that by acting cautiously he might succeed 
even better than at first he had dared to hope. Of course he 
did not exactly know upon what [)lan he was going to proceed. 
In fact, it would have been difficult under the circumstances 
to have laid down any plan. He was a free lance, and chance 
might at any moment throw something in his way, for the 
times were marked by strange things. Intrigue and con- 
spiracy were the order of the day, and he who kept his eyes 
open and watched silently and persistently might see and learn 
much that he could turn to his own advantage. 

Some such feeling as this, no doubt, guided Francois as he 
started for Exlinburgh, knowing that the prize he ho[>ed to 
win was Lilian, but that so many chances were against him as 
to make the winning seem truly improbable. But he did not 
despair, and found consolation in the thought that * He who 
tempts Fortune boldly may secure her favours.' 



CHAPTER XLIX. 

TUB QUEEN MAKES A BOLD PROCLAMATIOlt. 

The Earl of Bothwell was a restless and impatient man, and 
having dared so much and gone so far, he was not likely to 
remain quiet until he had fully accomplished his nefarious 
designs. To marry the Queen was his great ambition, but he 
was not yet divorced from his wife, and Mar}' was in mourn- 
ing for her murdered husband. Bothwell, however, was not 
likely to be deterred by such trifles as these. The Queen 
was blindly infatuated with him, and he knew it ; and he had 
acquired a power over her that was simply amazing. In his 



THE QUEEN MAKES A BOLD PROCLAMATION ^37 

presence she seemed to lose all sense of honour^ of dignity 
and womanly chastity, and to forget even that imperial 
greatness which was her heritage, and in which the weal or 
woe of her country was involved. On the dissolute Earl she 
lavished the highest honours, and at last, in order to blind 
the people, she entered into a guilty compact with him, by 
which he was to make a show of forcibly abducting her. 

She had gone to Stirling Castle to visit her infant son, and 
when returning to her capital she was met by Bothwell and 
six hundred of his followers, who took her and her retinue 
prisoners, and conducted them to the Castle of Dunbar, 
which the Earl had had specially prepared for her reception. 
Here the Scottish Queen passed some time, and in the mean- 
time Bothwell hurried on his divorce, and by bribing the 
Archbishop of St Andrew's, he succeeded in speedily obtain- 
ing a nullification of his marriage. On the very day that the 
judgment of the court was pronounced, Bothwell allowed the 
Queen to return to her capital ; and he himself, with an 
assumption of dejection and humility, walked unarmed, hold- 
ing the bridle of her horse. On reaching Edinburgh Mary 
publicly announced her intention of marrying her abductor. 
This announcement caused intense indignation amongst her 
subjects, even those who had been most staunch to her 
showing a disposition to revolt at this outrage against decency 
and honour. 

Bomcester, the fanatic, heard the announcement with 
amazement, for even he had not thought it possible that her 
Majesty would be guilty of such gross immorality so soon 
afler the murder of the King. So incensed was the old man 
that he lost no time in endeavouring to arouse his followers, 
and to enter into a conspiracy to have Bothwell assassinated 
in order that the ' Queen's Majesty might be saved from the 
fearful indignity this wicked nobleman sought to inflict upon 
her.' 

This conspiracy would have been carried to a successful 
issue if it had been led by anyone else but Bomcester. But 
the fanatic was too indiscreet, and he allowed his hatred to 
betray him into loud and open expressions of disloyalty. The 
result was that the plot was exposed, and the ever watchful 
Bothwell sent his myrmidons to seize all the conspirators and 
summarily execute theoL Bomcester at this time would 
certainly have paid for his rashness with his life, had it not 



238 BASILE THE JESTER 

been for Fran9ois, who gave him warning the night previous, 
and helped him to escape from the city in the disguise of a 
religious mendicant. 

Thus had the youth twice saved the life of the old man, 
who was far from showing any gratitude, however, and did 
nothing but lament the loss of the few things he was com- 
pelled to leave behind in his hurried (light Fran9ois accom- 
panied him for a short distance on the road, and when he 
was about to part from him, the fanatic clutched him by the 
shoulder, and in the deep sepulchral voice which was peculiar 
to him when labouring under suppressed excitement, he 
said : 

' Boy, go not back to yon damned city, for it is accursed of 
heaven. A terrible doom is impending over it, and amongst 
its sinful inhabitants there will be woe and bitter lamentation. 
It is verily the high place of Satan, therefore shun it as thou 
wouldst a pest-house. Thou art still young, and hast time 
for repentance. Flee from the wrath. Forswear thy creed 
and embrace the new faith, by which alone thou canst be 
saved. Do this, and if thy soul still yearns for the carnal 
things of the world my daughter shall wife with thee, and I 
will call thee son.' 

' Sir, seek not to tempt me,* answered Franc^ois sorrowfully. 
* Twice have I saved thy life, and if that gives me no claim to 
your daughter's hand, then much do I fear me that my love 
must go unsatisfied, for I shall ever remain loyal to the Queen 
and staunch to my faith.' 

' Foolish and misguided youth, go thy ways into the dark- 
ness which leads to destruction, since thou wilfully refusest to 
receive the spirit of truth. My daughter is not for such as 
thee, and never shalt thou behold her face again until thou 
art regenerated.' 

Having thus delivered himself, the strange old man moved 
away, and his gaunt figure was soon lost in the darkness. 

Francois stood for some moments looking afler him, until 
with a sigh of despair and an expression of disgust at the 
fanatic's ingratitude, he retraced his steps to Edinburgh. He 
felt somehow as if he was impelled thither by some unseen 
|)ower, and that though he was a mere nameless waif, without 
influence or friends, he had a solemn duty to [>erforni in 
endeavouring to sen'e the Queen by trj'ing to spy out her 
enemies. It was |)erhaps a romantic, if not a foolish, notion ; 



THE QUEEN MAKES A BOLD PROCLAMATION 239 

hut it pn>vecl that, young though he was, his loyalty and devo- 
tion to the Sovereign were true as steel. 

The month of May had now come in^ bringing with it 
promise of a rich and bountiful summer. For some weeks the 
weather had been exceptionally fine, and everywhere there 
^ was evidence that in due time there would be rich stores of 
the fruits of the earth. Nature was cheerful and full of 
smiles, and seemed to say to man, ' Peace be with you and 
goodwill, and industry.' But man heeded not her voice, and 
the distracted kingdom was torn with internal dissensions, 
with schisms and intrigues, and undermined with plots and 
counter-plots. Truth, honesty and honour had been trans- 
planted by a l}ing and deceitful spirit, and all was corruption 
and vice. From the Protestant pulpits preachers thundered 
forth the new doctrine and taught forbearance, peace, for- 
giveness and charity. But their words fell on barren soil and 
took no root, and even they themselves practisc^l not what 
they preached, but were stirred to the depths with hatred for 
those who differed from them. 

With a fatuity that seems almost incredible, Mary Queen of 
Scots allowed her |)assion for Both well to have full rein in 
spite of the universal reprobation of her people. Bothwell 
himself was hated and feared, save by his soldiers and 
retainers, who, probably in admiration of his remarkable 
courage and audacity, were true and faithful to him. In fact, 
he managetl to inspire amongst them a sort of worship, and to 
this, no doubt, he owed his life, for had it not been for the 
fear of the fur\' his death by assassination would have aroused 
amongst his followers, the secret dagger or the poisoned cup 
would most certainly have cut short his career. But fear he 
knew not ; and his mercilessness to those who thwarted or 
threatened him was his safeguard. 

On "Nlay \^ the Queen went in State to the High 
Court of FUlinburgh. Amid the waving of banners, the 
blaring of ,tnjm|>ets, the thunder of cannon, and sunrounded 
by the most imposing pomp, her Majesty rode through the 
streets amidst the acclamations of her people. She was 
mounted on a su|)erb black horse, which was covered with an 
ermine cloth that was trinnned with fringe of scarlet silk. 
The Queen wore a costly robe of puq>le velvet, ornamented 
with ennine and gold. Her splendid hair was interlaced 
with strings of priceless pearls, and round her throat she wore 



I 



240 BASILE THE JESTER 

a band of rubies and diamonds. In spite of the cares and 
anxieties that had so long beset her, she looked handsome and 
every inch a Queen. 

In the High Court, the sunlight pouring thiou^ the 
windows lit up a scene of imposing grandeur, for the magis- 
trates and nobility of Scotland were assembled, all gorgeously ' 
attired, so that the profusion of colour was marvellous. Men- 
atr-arms, clad in complete armour that was blinding in its 
brightness, were scattered through the Court, and every 
entrance was guarded by royal troops, bearing on their 
breasts the royal standard of Scotland. Announced by two 
heralds, gorgeously clad in scarlet and gold, and bearing silver 
trumpets, her Majesty appeared before the assembled multi- 
tude, and in a clear, firm voice announced to all present, and 
through them to all Scotland, that she was free ; that she 
pardoned the Earl of Bothwell the oflfence he had committed 
against her, in consideration of his subsequent good conduct, 
and that she meant to promote him to still higher honour. 
And there and then she proclaimed him Duke of Orkney and 
Shetland, and with her own fair hands she placed the richly- 
jewelled coronet on his head. This being done, and when 
the blaring of trumpets had ceased, she further informed her 
people that in onler to put an end to her solitary widowhood, 
and increase the number of her descendants, she intended to 
contract a marriage with the " mighty and noble lord in three 
days' time.* 

This announcement was received in almost solemn silence. 
Men stared at each other in amazement, and some of them 
were almost aghast, for they felt that the kingdom was doomed, 
and that ruin and disaster would certainly follow on such a 
shameful union. It had long been known and suspected that 
the Queen desired to wed Bothwell, but it was not believed 
that she would really go to such a length, and against the 
wish of all her subjects. It was as yet but three months since 
the King's death, and now his widow o[>enly announced her 
marriage with his murderer. Well might that august assembly 
feel shocked, for its members knew only too well that the 
insane act of their Sovereign presaged terrible trouble for the 
country. 

Mary herself was not slow to perceive the bad impression 
she had created, and as she had nothing further to say, she 
(>rdered her heralds to announce her return ; and th^n, in 



THE QUEEN MAKES A BOLD PROCLAMATION 241 

company with Bothwell, she rode back to Holyrood. The 
news of the announcement she had made in the Court-house 
had spread from lip to lip with marvellous rapidity ; and those 
who had acclaimed her as she proceeded to the Court allowed 
her now to pass by with scarcely a voice being raised. The 
people had received the intelligence with gloomy silence and 
sombre disapprobation. One man^ however^ had the boldness 
to cry out : 

' It is a sore matter to see that good Princess run to utter 
wreck, and nol)ody to forewarn her. I crave your Grace pause 
and think of the damage you will do your honour, of the 
clanger you will bring u|)on your infant son, and the ruin you 
will cause your country !' 

At a sign from Hothwcll one of his soldiers felled the 
K)>eaker to the ground with a brutal blow ; but, notwithstand- 
ing this, some market-women, who were collected in a group 
at a street-comer a little further on, exclaimed as the Queen 
IvLssed : 

'(i(k1 preserve your (irace, if you are sackless (innocent) of 
the King's death !' 

Her Majesty heard these words, and her face blanched a 
little. But she took no notice, though she knew that the 
women only expressed a suspicion that was shared by all her 
subjects. Still, her )>asKion for her daring lover overcame her 
better nature, and she resolved to wed him come what might 



CHAITEU L. 

HOW THR EARL OF nOTUWELL WAS TRAPPED. 

On May 15, at four o'clock in the moniing, at the Palace of 
HolyriNxl, the marriage ceremony between Bothwell and Mar}' 
( jiicfn of Scots was |>erfom]ed. Not more than half a dozen 
of the nobility were present, and only a few of the Queen's 
|H*rsonal attendants ami of the liousehold. Ik>thwell had indee<l 
triumphed. He had gained the throne, though he had waded 
through a sea of bUxKl to reach it. But his triumph was to 
l)e short-lived, and his fate was to be a terrible one. 

A few hours after his marriage he was alone in his luxurious 
apartment, when there entered unto him, unbidden and un- 
announced, Reoaud, the Court physiciAn ! The Earl started 



242 BASILE THE JESTER 

with surprise and anger, and was about to demand with his 
habitual coarseness by what right the visitor dared to intrude 
upon him, when Renaud, with a smirking smile, knelt on one 
knee, and in mock humility kissed BothwelFs hand, saying at 
the same time : 

' My Lord Bothwell, I congratulate you on your marriage 
and accession to power ; and in this moment of your great 
triumph, I, your most faithflil follpwer, would crave to be 
remembered !* 

' Rise, good Renaud,' responded the Earl with forced gentle- 
ness, and feeling, strongly tempted to strangle the man, who 
he knew too well was as dangerous as the most deadly of 
seq)ents, ' I told thee once the Earl of Bothwell never for- 
got his friends and never forgave his enemies. Thou mayst 
rest assured, therefore, that an thou hast shown me friendship, 
thy reward shall be commensurate with thy fidelity.' 

Renaud was not to be deceived by any such ambiguous 
phrasing as this ; nor was he disi)osed to be humble, although 
he simulated abject humility. But now he rose up haughtily, 
and with his dark face glowing with the i)assion which he sup- 
pressed, he made answer : 

' My lord, if you have risen you have risen on my shoulders, 
and 1 must share your greatness !' 

' How now, dog !' cried the h^rl, losing his temper. * Re- 
member thou art addressing the King !' 

Renaud smiled contemptuously as he replied : 

' An 1 be a dog, my loid, you shall find that I can bite. But 
I give you your words back. I am your equal !' 

' Have a care !' hissed Bothwell furiously, as he iialf drew 
his jewelled dagger and strode threateningly towards his op- 
ponent ' An thou art saucy I may be tempted to plunge my 
dagger into thy black heart, and cause thy body to be flung as 
carrion to the curs of the gutter !* 

With consummate coolness, and yet with compressed lips 
and anger-flashing eyes, Renaud stood firm and faced the Kjirl, 
and drawing a dagger likewise, much to the other's astonish- 
ment, he said : 

' Have a care, good my lord, for two can play at daggers. 
This is your wedding-day, but an you seek to do me injury it 
may prove to be your death-night I came prepared for you, 
as you see !' 

Bothwell was certainly taken aback at bein^ thus bearded| 



HOW THE EARL OF BOTHWELL WAS TRAPPED 243 

but his habitual courage and audacity did not desert him, and 
though he was seething with anger he concealed it, and said : 

' Put up thy weapon, man, I was not serious, though thy 
wonls angered me/ 

' Listen, my lord,' replied Renaud, still clutching his clagger 
firmly, and holding it ready to strike in case Bothwell had 
shown any dis|M)sition to attack him, ' your fair wonls cannot 
deceive me, for well I know that in your heart you bear for 
me intense hatred. But you have played into my hands, and 
1 should be a fool indeed an I failed to pn)fit by the knowledge 
I |M>ssess. Well do I know that your hireling assassins encom- 
))ass me, but take heed of what I say : if I fall by violence, 
that moment of a certainty marks your own swifl destruction. 
I have a |x>werful following, faithful and staunch to me even as 
your creatures are faithful and staunch to you. In various hands 
an<l in various places I have deposited sealed packets contain- 
ing minute cletails of your crime duly attested by witnesses. 
My death by violence is to be the signal for the opening of 
those imckets, and for their contents to be made public. And 
it is not more sure that the moon and the stars shine in the 
heavens than that your doom will be sealed. You will there- 
fore see, my lonl, that your safety and your interests demand 
that you should respect my |>erson and satisfy my desires.' 

Ikithwell listenecl to this bold s|)eech in |>erfect amazement; 
but he would have been obtuse and dull indeed had he failed to 
recognise that he had met his match in Renaud. He felt sure 
that the statement he had listened to was correct, and that 
he had in point of fact been outwitted. Used as he had been 
all his life to commanding, he felt it very hard now to have to 
obey. But he was conscious that a net, so to speak, ha<l been 
woven around him, and turn which way he would, there was 
no outlet of esca))e. Much as he despised the man before him, 
he was fain to confess to himself, painful as the confession was, 
that his enemy was master of the situation. 

' You speak boldly and have played well. Monsieur Renaud,' 
said Bothwell, ' but let me remind you that of your complicity 
in the crime I have ample evidence, and that a word from me 
would be sufficient to bring about your arrest and execution !' 

Hie sanlonic smile which was |)eculiar to Renaud when he 
felt more than usual ccmtempt for anyone wreathed itself 
about his thin li|>s now as he made answer : 

' My lord, you do but trifle ; and you show but little shrewd- 



244 BASILE THE JESTER 

ness in your speech. You are aware that public opinion is 
against you, and everyone believes you to be the assassin of 
his late Majesty. If you were to denounce me, overwhelming 
evidence would instantly be produced to drag you down and 
bring you to the block. Not even your royal wife would have 
power to save you. Nay, she herself might find it necessary 
to flee from the wrath of her people. I have taken every 
means, and neglected no step to ensure your conviction at any 
moment I like to speak. 1 have written evidence signed and 
sealed by your creatures, and as I have already told you, any 
injury done to me by your orders will be the signal for your 
downfalL* 

Bothwell inwardly writhed as he listened to these words, 
and he longed to get his fingers round the throat of his enemy 
and strangle liim to death. ' But what shall I gain by that ?* 
he asked mentally. A momentary revenge it was true, but 
would it not bring utter ruin to himself? Biting his lip to 
control his feelings, he demanded with suppressed passion : 

' What would you with me. Monsieur Renaud ? 1 admit 
that at present the game is on your side, therefore I cannot 
dictate terms. But name your price and you shall be paid !' 

' I am glad, my lord, that you are getting sensible at last,' 
Renaud answered with provoking coolness. ' My terms are 
commensurate with the ser\ice I have rendered. Her Majesty 
must confer an earldom u{X)n me, together with an estate in 
Scotland of an annual value of at least ten thousand merks. 
She must appoint me her chief physician for life, and from 
you I require the immediate payment of twenty thousand 
merks !' 

*The payment of twenty thousand merks I will make to you,* 
answered Bothwell with a growl, and feeling perfectly amazed 
at the cold-blooded audacity of his op|K)nent, ' but as for your 
other demands I have naught to do with them, and you must 
appeal to her Majesty.* 

' No, my lord,' Renaud returned, ' I must not, her Majesty 
is but your puppet. You have only to order and she will obey. 
To you I look for my reward, and from you it must come !* 

' So be it,* exclaimed Bothwell, scarcely able to contain him- 
self inith rage. ' The keeper of my privy purse shall pay you 
the twenty thousand merks to-morrow. For the other I will 
use my influence with her Majesty.* 

' Your privy purse-keeper will not pay me,' said Renaud. * I 



HOW THE EARL OF BOTHWELL WAS TRAPPED 245 

take the money only from your hands. I will have no witness 
to the transaction. The policy of that course will be at once 
ap))arent to your lordship.' 

Bothwell almost groaned as he recognisetl how thoroughly 
he was in the hands of this adventurer, against whom he was 
as powerless as he would have been if he had tilted against a 
solid stone wall. 

' It shall be as you desire/ the Earl said in a voice that 
plainly told how exasperated he was. * At the hour of ten cif 
the clock be here, and I will pay you the money. For the 
rest, I will discuss it with her Majesty, and a title and estate 
shall be conferred upon you at the earliest possible moment 
That business being settled, let the interview end, for between 
you and me there can bo no love.* 

Kenaud smiled again in his cold and provoking manner, and 
replied with withering irony : 

' I am not sure but what your love, my lonl, might be more 
dangerous than your hatred, for, being aware of the hitter, 
I can guard against it. And, moreover, since I desire not 
your love, nothing is lost. At ten of the clock to-morrow 
I will be here. Adieu, my lord, may you have joy of your 
marriage !' 

Renaud bowed in feigned humility and withdrew. Then 
Bothwell gave vent to the passion that he had so long re- 
strained, and his sinister face looked terrible in its expression 
of hate and wrath. 

' Devil !' he hissed, looking towards the doorway where his 
enemy had disappeared, and in his excitement drawing his 
dagger and plunging it into the table until half the blade was 
buried in the wood. ' Devil !' he repeated with greater 
emphasis, and hissing out the word as though he was spitting 
venom. ' You triumph for the moment,' he continued, ' but 
that triumph shall be short-live<L You have trapped me, but, 
an I find not a way to esca|>e from the trap, then shall the 
F^rl of Bothwell be written down a f(N)l. And doubt not. 
Monsieur Renaud, that an I do escape, my vengeance shall fall 
ufWD you with a weight that you little reck o£' 



216 BASILE THE JESTER 



CHAPTER LI. 

INTO CAPTIVITI'. 

The Earl of Bothwell had too much keenness of penetration 
and too much aptitude for judging men, not to see that it 
would be dangerous to himself to dally with Kenaud. That 
he had underrated him at first he knew now to his bitter 
regret ; but he could no longer be blind to the fact that he 
had to deal with a man who was his equal in duplicity and 
audacity, and his superior in cunning. 

' I must raise him in order that his fall may be the greater,' 
Bothwell mused, as he pondered on Renaud's demands. 'Time 
shall bring nie revenge, and it shall be the more deadly for the 
patience I exercise.* 

Comforting himself with this reflection, be laid the whole 
matter before the Queen, and impressed on her the necessity 
of quieting Renaud by throwing sops to him. Taking the 
same view as her husband, though equally determined to punish 
Renaud should the opportunity present itself, she determined 
to create him Earl of Hawksvale, and by which he would 
acquire the estate and castle of Hawksvale, near Moffat. The 
former owner of this estate had been found guilty of high 
treason, but had escaped to England, and his property had 
been confiscated. Nominally, it was worth more than Renaud 
had stipulated for, but in reality it was a barren waste, and 
was the scene of frequent border conflicts. The castle of 
Hawksvale was simply a border stronghold, and had been 
built more with a view to defence than luxury, although it 
was capable of affording a good deal of rough comfort. For 
some time it had been in charge of one of her Majesty's 
stewards, who had kept it in good repair. 

In bestowing this property upon Renaud, the Queen lielieved 
that she would not be much troubled with him in the future, 
as his time and attention would be concentrated upon his 
newly acquired {)ossession, and she observed to Bothwell, with 
an artful smile : 

' Methinks the new Earl will find Hawksvale Castle a 
veritable place of hawks ; for an I be rightly informed, the 
English freebooters regard it with envious eyes. But should 
they succeed in burning it over his head and involving him 



INTO CAPTIVITY S47 

in its ruins, I shall have a higher opinion of these lawless 
English.' 

' Your Majesty's remark is suggestive/ her husband replied 
thoughtfully, as a new idea struck him. ' A night raid by a 
handful of bold bonier riders might rid us of a very trouble- 
some |)ersonage, and the Earl of Hawksvale, the first and last 
representative of the earldom, might find a nameless grave 
near the blackened ruins of his castle, much to our relief. An 
I know aught of these lM>rderers, and methinks I do, a bag of 
good Scots pounds will be a wonderful incentive for them to 
carry the fiery brand to my lord of Hawksvale's residence.' 

The significance of these words was not lost upon the Queen ; 
but she said nothing, being content to leave the matter in the 
hands of the designing Bothwell, who was not likely to hesitate 
at anything that would safely rid him of his enemy. On the 
f(»l lowing morning, in accordance with his promise, the Earl of 
Bothwell |)aid over to Renaud the sum of twenty thousand 
merks, and announced to him her Majesty's intention of 
bestowing an earldom upon him. Renaud heanl this with ill- 
concealed joy, and later, when alone in his chamber, he gave 
way to the most extravagant manifestations of delight Afler 
years of ))atient waiting nnd artful plotting he had gained 
jM)wer and wealth at last — so he thought And he, the |x>verty- 
stricken waif of Paris, was al)out to become a Scottish earl. 

In a few days it was publicly announced that as ' a reward 
for long and faithful service,' her Majesty's faithful attendant 
and physician, and naturalized Scotchman, Renaud, would be 
elevated to the i>eerage, with the title of the Earl of Hawks- 
vale, and that the confiscated estate of Hawksvale would be 
bestowed u|X)n him, with its stronghold and all its emoluments. 

This announcement did not cause much comment or attract 
much notice amongst the c^mnnon people ; but the nobles 
were indignant, as they said that an adventurer was being 
raised to their level, while a few of the bolder spirits amongst 
them declared that the earldom and the estate were simply 
brilies for Renaud to keep silent with reference to certain 
knowledge he posst*ssed. If Renaud heanl any of the opini(»ns 
that were expressed about him he was not affected thereby ; 
and the Queen and Bothwell were too much occupied with 
their own pressing affairs to take any heed. In a short time 
Parliament ratified the new crt*ation, and gave Renaud legal 
possession of the pn»|H:rty. And that done, the new Earl set 



us BASILE THE JESTER 

off with his creature Bastian to view his estate, and to gather 
retainers about him to safeguard it 

Amongst those whom he took into his service was a woman 
named Helen Macdonald, whose devotion he had won by 
attending her during a dangerous illness. She had occupied 
a menial position in Holyrood Palace, and had been seized 
with small-pox. As there was a terrible dread of this disease 
amongst all classes, she had been turned out of the palace, and 
as she had no friends who would receive her, she must have 
perished like a dog had not Renaud installed her in a lonely 
cottage near Duddingstone, not far from Holyrood. And here, 
thanks to his care and attention, she slowly recovered, and her 
gratitude knew no bounds. In fact, she became his slave 
almost, and being restored to her former position in the palace, 
she proved useful to him as a spy. She was remarkable for 
her physical strength, and though a very illiterate woman, she 
had a great amount of natural intelligence. Renaud had 
already utilized this creature's services to watch the movements 
of Adrienne de Bois, and now that he had become the possessor 
of a castle, and had his own retainers, he determined, with 
Helen Macdonald's aid, to attempt to carry Adrienne off. Not 
only was he desirous of obtaining the lady's fortune, but he 
wanted to be revenged at the same time, for, like all mean 
men, he was better and revengeful, and wished to make poor 
Adrienne feel his power. He beheved that if he could once 
get her safely locked up in Hawksvale Castle, he could in time 
overawe her and prevail upon her to marry him. To rid 
himself of her afterwards would not be a difficult matter, he 
thought ; and if he could only make it appear that he was not 
connected with her disappearance he would have nothing to 
fear from the Queen's anger. 

Having conceived this cowardly plot, he took the woman 
Macdonald into his confidence, and by holding out the tempta- 
tion of a liberal bribe, he had no difficulty in securing her 
co-operation. But, though it was easy enough to make the 
plot, it was not so easy to put it into practical shape. It was 
imperatively pecessary that the utmost secrecy should be 
exercised, in order that suspicion should not fall upon Renaud. 
For he was sure that the Earl of Bothwell would be only too 
quick to make it an excuse for depriving him of his newly- 
acquired title and estates, and imprisoning him. Renaud was 
perfectly well aware that at present his position was not so 



INTO CAPl'lVITY 24;) 

strong nor his power so great that he could set the Queen ami 
her husband at defiance. Therefore, his plot must be carried 
out expeditiously and with absolute secrecy. 

lie mentioned his fears and difficulties to Fielen, but she 
laughed at them, and was equal to the occasion. ' Name a 
time and place where you wish her to be, and I will pledge 
myself to have her there,' she said. 

This was definite at least, and Renaud indicated a date, and 
named a spot where his creature Bastian and another man 
would be in waiting to kidnap Adrienne, and bear her off to 
Hawks vale. 

In undertaking to lure the unfortunate Adrienne into the 
snare that was thus being pre))ared for her, Helen did not 
overrate her power. She was aware that Adrienne was in the 
habit of occasionally visiting an old woman, who had formerly 
been in service in the palace, but who, becoming partially 
blind, and too old for further ser\'ice, had been pensioned off, 
and installed in a snug cottage about two miles from the 
palace and on the road to I^ith, and here she lived with a 
widowed daughter and three grandchildren. Helen Macdonald 
had once conveyed a message from this old lady to Adrienne, 
and she resolved to take ail vantage of her knowledge to place 
Adrienne in Renaud's |M)wer. It was therefore arranged that 
I^stian and his help were to be in waiting with horses on a 
given evening, l>etween the palace and the old pensioner's 
cottage. Then Helen Macdonald told Adrienne that a message 
had just been brought that the old woman had l)een taken 
dangerously ill, and had sent an urgent message asking her to 
go to her. 

Adrienne's kindly heart was touched instantly, and making 
no inquiries about the messenger, for she never dreamed of 
deception, she started hurriedly off at about four o'clock in 
the afteniocm. Everything was in favour of the successful 
earning out of Renaud's dastanlly plan. The aflemoon was 
sullen, rain threatened, and the road was lonely. The s|M)t 
where the kidnappers had concealed themselves was in a 
small fir plantation on the side of the road, half-way between 
the palace and the old woman's cottage. Helen had under- 
taken to accompany Adrienne, and when they reachecl the 
plantation Adrienne was suddenly seized by her comfmnion. 
in a moment Bastian rushed forward with the other man. 
A huge cloak was thrown over Adrienne, she was lifted on to 



250 BASILE THE JESTER 

a horse, and before she could utter cry or offer resistance, she 
was being borne rapidly southward. For some time she was 
bcMrildered by the suddenness of the attack. Her head being 
enveloped in the cloak, she could see nothing, and could 
hardly breathe, and in a little while she absolutely fainted, 
and did not recover consciousness for half an hour. The cloak 
had been removed then, and only a lingering gleam of day- 
light was in the sky, but it enabled her to see that she was 
on horseback, and was supported in the powerful arms of 
Bastian, while another horse bore a second man apd Helen 
Macdonald. The presence of Bastian made it clear to Adrienne 
at once that she was at last in the power of Renaud. 

' What is the meaning of this outrage ?* she gasped, almost 
choking with indignation. 

' It means that my master, whom thou hast defied so long, 
is now in a position to break thy spirit and thy heart at the 
same time,' answered Bastian, with a malicious grin on his 
repulsive face. 

Poor Adrienne sickened with a nameless fear ; but she 
knew how useless argument would be with this man, and she 
therefore wisely resolved to hold her peace. 

For three' or four hours longer they continued to ride, and 
then rein was drawn at a lonely house in the occupation of 
an old man and a woman. Here Adrienne was oitlered to 
dismount, which she was by no means reluctant to do. She 
entered the house, where some rough refreshment was pro- 
vi€led, and Adrienne soon gathered that the old man and 
woman were hirelings of Renaud's. She passed the night in 
a Ixarely-fumished chamber with Helen Macdonald as her 
custoilian. She appealed to this woman for pity, and tried to 
prevail upon her to allow her to escape, promising her a con- 
siderable sum of money if she did so ; but Helen was im- 
movable and obdurate, and weary and jaded Adrienne at last 
fell asleep. 

Ere the sun had well risen the following day the journey 
was resumed, Adrienne riding with Bastian as before, though 
without the cloak. At first she had offered strenuous protest 
and refused to mount, but with brutal ferocity Bastian seized 
her and swore that he would strangle her if she uttered so 
much as a whimper. And so, perforce, she submitted, nursing 
a hope that some means of escape might providentially occur. 

The night was darkening in as they rode into the lonely 



INTO CAPTIVITY 851 

reftion of Hawksvale. The silent hills were deeply empurpled 
with shadows, and thf^ir outlines were cut cletir tigainst the 
linfierinfr ftleaniH of the f^lowinf; west. Ghostly and grim 
looked the pine forests ; and a torrent chaiitetl a hoarse song 
as it tore its way over its rocky bed. It was a vale in which, 
at that moment, solitude seemed to have mnde its home, 
though often the echoes hnd been awakened by the clash of 
arms, and the passionate cries of warlike men, as they stained 
their steel in each other's blood. Now the horses' footfalls 
made no sound on the springy turf, and only the torrent's 
roar broke the silence, which was like the silenee of death. 

Soon the castle was reached. A water ditch surrounded 
it, and the drawbridge was up. Helen's com[>anion alifthted 
mnd blew a blast on a horn that hunf; on a post. A man 
appeared at the salljrport and ilemanded who the intruders 
were. Bastian answered, and instantly the drawbridge was 
lowered, and in another moment Adrienne found herself in a 
court-yard, «iid beheld with shrinking terror that the Flarl of 
Hawksvale was litanding ready to receive her, his sinister face 
lighted up with a smile of joy as he saw that his triumph so 
far was complete. 



CHAPTER Ul. 

[H THE serpent's COlLfl. 

Adrienne was completely exhausted. The long ride, the 
want of proper food, and the mental anxiety and shock luul 
prostrated her, and she felt faint anil ill and appeared as if 
aliout to fall. She was conscious that sonielNxly came to her 
assistance and led her forward, down a dimly-lighted stone 
passage, and then into a we)l-funiishe<l rhanilter. Tlie si>me- 
ixMly was Helen .Macdonald, and as Adrienne sank on ti> a 
couch she reganle«l the woman with di<.gust and homtr, and 
her firnt imtiulse was to indignantly onler lier away, for she 
knew that tne creature had shamefully dfccivwl her and led 
her into a trap. But Adrienne checked this impulse, as she 
remembered that afler all the wretched woman was a mere 
mercenary, and had given her services for money, and in- 
stantly it oecurTe<l to the jinor captive that she might turn 
this cupidity to aceount, and by paying Helen liberally in<luGe 
her to connive at her escape. 



252 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Why hast thou lent thyself to this outrage on my liberty 
and dignity, Helen ?' Adrienne demanded. 

' Because I have been well paid for it,' the woman answered 
curtly, and then, as if wishing to avoid the subject, she said : 
' Let me assist you to disrobe, then I will seek food for you. 
You look white and ill.' This was not unkindly said, and as 
Adrienne did not deem it prudent to enter into any discussion 
with Helen, she merely replied : 

'Yes, I am ilL Thou shalt get me some refreshment. I 
would fain have a draught of Mrine an it is procurable, for I 
have a consuming thirst' 

' I am a stranger to the house,' answered Helen, ' but may 
be they are not so barbarous but they have wine for a lady's 
drinking. The new Lord of Hawksvale will, I doubt not, 
have a vintner, and I will seek him out' 

Helen left the room, much to Adrienne's relief, for she was 
only too glad to be alone. Her thoughts were sad enough, 
and her feelings were harrowed as she remembered Basile 
and Francois. She knew how distressed they would be when 
they heard of her abduction. She shuddered a little as she 
realized that she was now thoroughly in the power of Renaud, 
who had thus conveyed her to this remote and lonely part of 
the kingdom in order that he might l>e more secure from 
detection. She did not doubt for a moment that if the Queen 
knew of her whereabouts she would rescue her, but she 
reflected with alarm that Renaud was too wily to let his plot 
leak out ; and the artful and secret manner in which she had 
been carried off caused Adrienne to sicken with despair, since 
it seemed manifest that those who loved her would remain in 
entire ignorance of her fate. 

Half an hour passed, and Helen Macdonald had not re- 
turned. Adrienne had been so absorbed with her reflections, 
and felt so disinclined to move, that she was still reclining on 
the couch when unexpectedly and suddenly the tapestry 
overhanging the door was drawn aside, and Renaud appeared. 
His sudden intrusion electrified Adrienne into activity, and 
she sprang to her feet, demanding to know why he had thus 
intruded himself upon her. 

His dark, pale face seemed more than usually sardonic, and 
his thin lips were curved with a scornful smile. 

' I am the Earl of Hawksvale,' he answered, infected with 
pride and a sense of his own importance. ' This castle is my 



IN THE SERPENT'S COILS 253 

possession absolutely, and therefore I cannot intrude upon you, 
seeing that I am the master here.' 

' Thou art a villain !' she ejaculated with fiery indifn^i^tion. 

'Th(»u art bold, and even insolent, seeing that thou art 
captive and in my |M)wer/ he retorted. 

' An€] what wouldst thou with me Y she demanded. ' Where- 
fore hast torn me from my friends, and so shamefully betrayed 
the trust that her Majesty has reposed in thee? Rest as- 
sured, sir, that the Queen's Majesty will exact from thee a 
terrible reckoning.' 

' 1 have her Majesty like that,' Renaud sneered, as he 
made a sign with his hand, indicating that he had her in his 

' Shame on thee for thy disrespect of the good Queen,' 
cried Adrienne, burning with indignation. 

' Disres|)ect,' Renaucl repeated, 'and how am I disrcs|>ectful, 
mademoiselle? Art thou so dull of wit that thou knowest 
not that Queen Mary put away one husband that she might 
mate with his munlerer, and that murderer shamelessly 
divorced from his wife ?' 

Adrienne uttered a shriek, and covered her face with her 
hands as if she were perfectly horrified at Renaud's disloyal 
utterance. 

' Shame on thee for a knave and a traitor !' she gas|>ed, 
quite breathless with anger. ' Thy wicked slanders against 
tile dear Queen will recoil u|x>n thine oii'n head ; and, if 
Heaven be just, a spct*dy retribution will overtake thee. Thy 
evil-s|>eaking tongue shall yet cry aloud for pity fn>m the 
royal lady whom thou now vitu|>eratest. Go to ; thou art an 
unworthy traitor, and shouldst Ih: hanged.' 

Renaud winced at this, and his anger nearly got the lH*tter 
of him ; but after a )Muse and a struggle with himself, he 
said : 

' Thou givest expression to harsh words that, an other \\\r& 
uttered, I should know how to resent them.' 

* 1 fear thee not/ cried Adrienne with energy, and seeming 
to gather strength and resolution. ' And now I <leniand to 
know why thou hast dared to tear me fmni my friends and 
forcibly bring nie here ?' 

'To niarr}' thee,' he answered, with provoking calmness. 

* Marr}' me !' she exelainie<l, with a laugh of sc*oni. 'Thou 
hast surely a stnnige notion of how a lady should be wooed. 



254 BASILE THE JESTER 

Nay, I vow by my faith in heaven that rather than wed thee 
I would mate with a toad/ 

Renaud was seething with anger, but he made a desperate 
effort to a{)pear cool and collected. 

' Adrienne de Bois, listen to me,' he exclaimed with sup- 
pressed energy. ' Years ago I wooed thee in Paris, as men 
woo the women they love. Thou gavest me hope, ay, even a 
promise; but the hope was blighted and the promise was 
broken, and the cause I know now. It was the evil shadow 
of Basile the Jester that fell between thee and me. Since 
then I have often sought to win thy heart, but that shadow 
has never departed. I had Basile in my power, but he has 
escaped me, though thou shalt not. Revenge is sweet, and it 
is pleasure to me to know that thou, who hast so long defied 
me, art at last in my absolute keeping.' 

' Thou art a coward !' she hissed passionately, and aroused 
to desperation as she recognised her danger. 

' 1 am thy master,* he retorted savagely. ' And I will break 
thy spirit and wound thy pride before 1 have finished with thee.* 

Adrienne shrank away with instinctive fear, as this man now 
revealed to her what a monster he was. That she was too 
truly in his power at present she recognised with a sense of 
awful despair ; and yet she had the foresight to see that it 
were worse than folly to defy him. The fly entangled in the 
spider's web might struggle desperately, but its efforts only 
served to exhaust it and render it an easier prey to its captor. 
And so, ¥ath commendable wisdom, Adrienne resolved not to 
exasperate the man whose captive she was, but to try and con- 
ciliate him by diplomacy. She therefore assumed a forced 
comjK)sure, and standing firmly before him, said : 

' Sly Lord of Hawksvale, 1 have given thee no cause to use 
such terrible threats towards me. 1 am a distressed gentle- 
woman^ and thou shouldst be chivalrous enough to display pity 
rather than harshness to one who has done thee no wrong.' 

'Thou hast done me grievous wrong,' he exclaimed with 
savage emphasis. 

' How so, my lord ?' 

' Thou hast trifled with my heart Though I hold exalted 
position, thou hast neglected me for the plebeian gutter-dog^ 
Basile the Jester.' 

At this taunt Adrienne fired up. She could not help it, and 
with bitter scorn she retorted, ' My Lord of Hawksvale ' — ^she 



IN THE SERPENTS COILS 255 

laid particular stress on these words — ' My I^rd of Hawksvale, 
I would remind thee that thy |)ower and title are too new, and, 
like new shoes, fit thee too clumsily for thee to talk about 
other folk being gutter-<logs. 1 muht ask thee to remember 
what thou wert a few short years ago, when threadbare and 
hungr}' thou earnest to her Majesty's |)alace in Paris. Basile, 
whom thou revilest, was bom in the Court, and has breathed 
the atmosphere of royalty from his cradle, as his father and 
grandfather did before him. The blood in his veins is purer 
than thine own, and thy position thou owest to me.' 

The terrible sting of these words tortured the self-inflated 
Kenaud out of all self-command. Like all such men who 
suddenly rise to |)ower and |)osition, he was arrogant and 
des|M>tic, and could not bear to be reminded of his humble 
origin. Moreover, D^isile was his rival, and he hated him, and, 
what is more, feared him, because he knew that he could not 
disguise fnmi li^tsile that he was an im|)ostor. And now to 
hear his rival praised, while he himself was s|M>ken dis|Miragingly 
of, maddened him. He Inire no love for Adrienne, that was 
certain, but in his stupid pride he could not bear the idea that 
she gave the preference to the Jester. In his excitement he 
seized her roughly by the wrists until she almost fainted with 
tem)r, and putting his face so close to hers that his hot breath 
fanned her cheek, he hissed iNissionately : 

' Have a care, woman, an thou h.'ist a desire to live. Basile, 
the dog, has ever l)een a stumbling-block in my |Mith. I had 
him in my grip once, and would have crushed him but he 
es(*aped me — thanks to the treachery' of Fran<;ois, whom |)er- 
dition catch. But now 1 have thee, 1 swear bv the Cmss of 
Christ that rather than let thee and Kasile come together 
again, thy Inuics shall moulder in the dungeons of this castle. 
'l*liou hast set me at defiance long enough, but now my day 
has come, and if thou art wise thou wilt res|K*ct me.' 

He Hung her off and stood |mnting with excitement, and 
glaring at her with rage. Almost |Miraly/.ed with fear, 
Adrienne could s|R'ak no word ; and the force with which he 
had pushcil her from him had sent her reeling <igainst the 
couch, on to which she sank, and hiding her face in her hands, 
the groaned in agony. 

Fortunately at this moment Helen Macdonald returned and 
put an end to the scene. 'l*uniing to her, Henaud exclaimed : 

' Helen, I have been defied. In thy care I leave Adrienne 



256 BASILE THE JESTER 

de Bois. Bring her to her senses, and mark me/ he added 
sternly, 'it were better that thou hadst never been bom if she 
should escape.' 

He left the room without another word, and Adrienne, 
stricken with fear and grief, continued to sob and moan, while 
Helen, evidently a httle bewildered at the unexpected |x>si- 
tion she suddenly found herself in, stood regarding the 
weeping Adrienne with a puzzled and not altogether unsympa- 
thetic expression on her fat face. 



CHAPTER LIII 
'AMorrioN : by that sin fell the anoels.' 

Adrienne's disappearance was not an event in which the out- 
side public were likely to feel much concern. But in the 
Court itself there was intense indignation and even alarm. 
So skilfully had her abduction been arranged, that Renaud was 
not at first suspected, and, in fact, the cause of her sudden 
departure was a mystery. The Queen was greatly distressed, 
and caused inquiries to be made as to the movements of her 
favourite on the day of her disappearance ; but these inquiries 
elicited nothing beyond the fact that Adrienne was known to 
have left the palace, though she had not hinted to living soul 
what her destination was. Lonl Bothwell himself, cute and 
far-seeing as he usually was, did not for a moment suspect 
Renaud, for he was quite in ignorance that there had ever been 
any love passages between the two. Within a week of her 
disappearance Renaud had returned to the Court, and mani- 
fested well-feigned surprise when he heard the news, and 
later when her Majesty sent for him and questioned him as 
to his opinion, he said : 

' Your Grace may rest assured that this ungrateful lady, all 
unmindful of your Majesty's goodness to her, hath taken her- 
self off to her plebeian lover.' 

'A plebeian lover!' exclaimed the Queen in utter amazement. 

' Even so, your Majesty.' 

' And who is this lover Y demanded the Queen imperiously, 
and with an indignant toss of her head. 

' Even the fool, who erstwhile bored your Grace's royal ears 
with his dull wit, but who, a traitor to your Majesty's cause. 



'AMBITION : BY THAT SIN FELL THE ANGELS' 257 

hath set certain scandals afloat concerning your royal person 
and that of your most noble and devoted husband.' 

' Dost mean Basil e ?' cried the Queen, almost breathless with 
surprise and indignation. 

' The same, an it please your Gnice.' 

The Queen's face and neck were dyed scarlet with the 
burning flush of |>assionate anger, as, without reflecting for a 
single moment, she jumped to the conclusion that it was all 
true. Seldom, indeed, did she display so much passion as the 
did now, as she thought she had been grossly deceived by 
Adrienne. 

'My Lord of Hawksvale,' she cried, 'you make serious 
statements, but 1 doubt not you have proof.' 

'Indeed I have, your Majesty. My eyes have not been 
shut of late, and I have seen many things, and during your 
Majesty's enforced absence fnim the palace, I discovered 
Basile and Adrienne de Bois closeted together in the lady's 
chaml)er.' 

' lm|x>ssible !' gasped the Queen. 

' An it please you, your Majesty, it is strictly true.' 

' And why didst thou not slay the caitiff?' the Queen cried 
with fiery energy. 

' I placed him under arrest,' Renaud continued, ' and having 
ample proof in my possession that he was in league with the 
conspirators who liad driven your Majesty from your own 
|)alace, I was determined to administer summary justice, and 
make short work of him by hanging him. But my base and 
ignoble son defeated my puqM>se. For reasons I wot not of 
he was in league with Basile, and, as I have since learned, he 
bribed the sentinel in order to gain access to the Stone Chest 
where the Jester was confined. I had sent my faithful 
ser\itor, Bastian, to try and elicit information from Basile of 
the conspiracy affecting your Majesty's happiness, and while 
he was seated with the prisoner, my son assaulted and beat 
him into insensibility, and then let the prisoner out And 
since then, as your (vrace is aware, they have both kept out of 
your royal reach, and set your Majesty's commands to return 
at defiance.* 

This plausible story, told with unblushing effrontery, com- 
pletely deceived the Queen. It seemed to her to be quite in 
ac<*ord with all that had happened, l^sile and Francois's 
flight and refusal to return a[>peared to be positive evidence 

17 



S58 BASILE THE JESTER 

in support of the story, and once again her faith in Renaud 
became strong. She felt that he was a friend to her, and 
that she had done him a cruel wrong in ever suspecting him of 
treachery. She extended her white jewelled hand to him, and 
he knelt and kissed it. She was greatly agitated, and tears were 
in her eyes, for she conceived herself to be a much wronged 
woman ; and it seemed to her that those upon whom she had 
hivished favours and kindness had been the most deceptive. 

Although stirred by emotional sentiment, she was also 
exasperated by anger, and she said vnth an expression of stem 
resolve in her beautiful but sorrowful face : 

' My Lord of Hawksvale, we are grateful for loyal duty, and 
we pledge ourselves that if this villainous knave Basile be 
within the precincts of our kingdom, we will leave nothing un- 
done to bring him to justice, and as we live he shall have a 
short shrifl. As for your unworthy son, we cannot do better 
than leave you to deal with him. By his own confession he 
was dishonest to us, by daring to look with admiring eyes on 
the pretty daughter of our bitter and designing enemy, 
Bomcester. We see now with bitterness how shamefully we 
have been deceived ; but retribution shall fall with a heavy 
hand on those who have so abused our confidence.' 

' Fran9ois is my son, your Majesty,' answered Renaud, his 
dark, marble-like face showing no sign of his lying and guilty 
heart ; ' but I blush with shame in having to own to it, and 
out of my loyal and loving duty to your Grace I place his 
fate unreservedly in your hands. An it please your Majesty to 
order him for instant execution, should he be captured, I, his 
father, out of a strict sense of honour and justice, will not 
hesitate to see the sentence carried out.' 

' We thank you, my lord,' said the Queen, scarcely able to 
control her agitation. 'Your loyal duty to us has already 
received recognition at our hands, and rest assured your 
further devotion shall not pass unnoticed.' 

She made a sign with her hand that the interview had 
ended. She was quite overcome, and as Renaud withdrew she 
called her maids to her, and ordered them to conduct her 
to her chamber. 

Whatever her faults as a Queen and a woman were, she was 
staunch to those who served her faithfully, and she had a high 
regard for friendship, while ingratitude cut her to the quick. 
It was the thought that Basile, Adrienne and Francis had 



-' -U" J 



'AMBITION: BY THAT SIN FKLL THE ANGELS' 259 

been guilty of the very l>asest of ingratitude that caused her 
to feel so keenly now. Although two of them at Iciist were 
only humble personages in her Court, she had taken a deep 
interest in them, for it was characteristic of her that no one 
in her service was too lowly for her gracious notice, and in 
the case of Fran<^ois she felt so attached to him that she would 
have raised him to high {X)sition. But now he, like the rest 
u|)on whom she had lavished kindnesses, had forsaken her. 

As lienaud left her Majesty's presence he was unusually 
elated, and he rubbed his hands together after the fashion of 
a man who is conscious of having scored a great triumph. 
It seemed to him that all his plans were prospering, and his 
most cherished hopes were being realized. But his appetite 
grew by what it fed upon ; and, puffed up with a sense of his 
own importance, he thirsted for still greater |x>wer. 

' My |>ath is straight,' he mused, ' and all the difficulties I 
have smoothed away. But I must go still higher, upward and 
upward to greatness. I would l>e a ruler of men, and a prince 
anumg princes. I have climbed already to a giddy height, 
and when I look down and lK*hold the Paris kennel in which 
I so long grovelled, my head swims ; but there is a greater 
height, a greater greatness still to be attained, and I will 
wm it 

As these thoughts passed through his brain he had unccm- 
sciously wandered along the corridor that led to the Queen's 
private chai>el, and it so hap|)ened that as he neared the d<H>r 
of the eha|K*l the choristers were practising the sublime * Mag- 
nificat/and these wonls, in solenm rhythmical cadence, bn>ke 
upon his ear : 

' D«p(Muit potentet de aede, et exultAvit humiles.'* 

Renaud started, and a strange fear crept over him and 
caused his Hesh to go cold. Even ns he stcKxl the Infant iful 
words were re|R'ateti in n^frain, and then the chant died away, 
leaving an awfully impressive stillness. It seemed to him as 
if they had been s|H*cially |)ointiHl at him, and sharing as he 
did all the superstitious feeling of the times, they had a 
s|>ecial significance as they mingled with his dream of great- 
ness. Although professedly a giNxi ( atholic, he was utterly 
irreligious, but his conscience smote him now ; for it seemed 

* *He hath put down the mighty from their neat, and hatb eudtad 
them oi low degree.' 



260 BASILE THE JESTER 

as if a voice from heaven had spoken to him ; and by a sudden 
impulse he crossed himself, then knelt down and uttered an 
Ave. Then suddenly, with the intense egotism of a miserable 
conceit, he applied the wonls in his own favour, and repeating 
the last half of the refrain : ' And hath exalted them of low 
degree,' he said to himself, ' I was of low degree and have 
been exalted.' This strange perversion of the line to suit his 
own circumstances quite restored his composure, and mutter- 
ing another Ave, he rose and turned to go, when he found 
himself face to face with the Earl of Bothwell. With the 
humility which he always assumed in Bothwell's presence, 
Renaud bowed low. 

' The noble Earl of Hawksvale seems unusually devout,' said 
Bothwell, with cutting irony. ' By my soul, I have not seen 
so rare a sight this many a day. Crossing the corridor to my 
apartment, I beheld your lordship kneeling in the act of 
prayer on the bare stones, and I lingered to gaze upon so 
unique a spectacle. Has thy conscience fretted thee more 
than usual, most potent Earl of Hawksvale Y 

Renaud flinched under this most scathing fire of sarcasm, and 
his brow contracted with a deep frown as he made answer : 

' My Lord Bothwell makes light of a solemn subject. My 
conscience, my lord, is in my own keeping, and thou, thank 
heaven, art not my confessor.' 

With a low bow he swept past his somewhat disconcerted 
rival, who stood looking afler him and biting his lip with 
anger. Then Bothwell smiled dangerously, as was his wont, 
when he uttered a menace, and instinctively clutching the 
jewelle<l handle of his rapier, he muttered between his 
clenched teeth : 

' The devil seize thee for a traitorous knave. An my wits 
fail me not, I will still the beating of thy black heart ere thou 
hast grown much older. Such wee<ls as thou art should be 
early cut down, lest they scatter their seeds.' 

CHAPTER LIV. 

FRAN9OIS TAKES A BOLD STTEP. 

Although Adrienne de Bois's mysterious disappearance was 
not a subject upon which the general public concerned them- 
selves, inasmuch as she was not a conspicuous person, nor 



FRANCOIS TAKES A BOLD STEP 26l 

known beyond her circle of acquaintances, some little wonder 
was expressed that a lady of the Court should be able to go 
away and leave no trace behind. There was one person, how- 
ever, who heard the news, as it was retailed by tavern and 
other gossips, with alarm and burning indignation, and that 
one was Francois. 

Without any very definite object he had remained in 
Edinburgh, buoyed u{) by two ho|)es, as it were. The one 
that he might wed Lilian, the other that he could obtain 
the Queen's pennission for the union. He was perfectly 
conscious that the two things were incompatible. Firstly, 
because the fanatical Ikimcester was so incensed against the 
Queen and Catholicism, that he would never sanction the 
marriage so long as Fran^'ois showed an attachment to the 
Court, and refused to become a renegade. Secondly, because 
her Majesty was not at all likely to countenance one of her 
servants wedding with the daughter of a man who was not 
only a sworn enemy to the Catholic Church, but a dangerous 
and uucompmmising plotter against the throne. The youth 
saw clearly enough, therefore, that he c*ould not have Lilian 
and serve the Queen. At the same time, while he could not 
bring himself to resolve to abandon all ho|)es of Lilian, he 
would not, on the other hand, prove false to liis Church or his 
Queen. And so he continued to cherish the romantic idea 
that some day chance would enable him to render a striking 
ser>'i(*e to her Majesty, so that in return he might claim fnnn 
her a recogniticm of his union. How this ser>'ice was likely 
to be rendered by one so humble and unknown as he, he could 
not even imagine. But he had faith in his star, and on that 
faith he lived. So far as Bomcester himself was concerned, 
he hud already rendered him im|)ortant service, seeing that 
he had saved his life ; but the fanatic was as immovable as a 
nK*k, and gratitude he knew not ; but the youth believed 
that if Lilian were a free agent she wouUl readily (*onsent to 
lK'(x>me his wife, and she might at any date lK'c*ome a frt^e 
agent by her father's death. And as Ikuncester was well 
advanced in years, to say nothing of his l)eing liable t<i l>e 
arrested at any moment and summarily executed as a danger 
to the peace of the State, this contingency was by no means 
a remote one. To return to the |>alace in ol>e<lience to the 
(jueen's commands was, as Fran^*ois knew only too well, to 
run into danger, and even to jeopardize his life, since Henaud 



262 BASILE THE JESTER 

would not hesitate to have him effectually removed if he 
found him in any way a menace to him. And knowing as he 
did now that Renaud was not his father, but was a rank im- 
postor, the youth could not have remained in Court and have 
been indifferent and silent. To have kept up the deception 
in regard to Renaud being his father would have been im- 
possible for him to do ; and, therefore, Renaud would of a 
necessity have felt that his position was threatened, and when 
he had so much at stake he would not have hesitated to have 
the danger secretly removed. But quite apart from his own 
feelings — that is, the intense feeling of disgust and contempt 
he experienced for Renaud, knowing as he did that he was a 
knave — Fran9ois had made a solemn promise to Basils that 
he would not go back until he was in a position to unmask 
Renaud and bring him to justice. Although Francois himself 
did not know how he was going to gain that position, Basile 
expressed himself very confident that he would do so, but he 
was provokingly reticent as to the basis of his definite opinion. 
Nevertheless, the youth was content to put his trust in his 
friend the Jester, and ffUed with high and chivalrous notions, 
albeit romantic ones, he alhed himself with the secret league 
already mentioned, and he considered that his own special 
mission was to remain in the capital, watching with ceaseless 
vigilance for an opportunity to render service to her Majesty 
and disconcert her enemies. 

When it was publicly announced that Renaud had been 
created an earl, and had l>een given an estate and a border 
castle by special act of the Queen, Francois's heart grew 
heavy, for he knew too well what this meant. It meant that 
Renaud had acquired more power, and that his position and 
character had in consequence become less assailable. Rumour 
with her thousand tongues had associated Renaud with Both- 
well in the murder of the King, and Francois for one most 
firmly believed Renaud guilty, and while he would not for a 
single instant entertain the opinion shared by many, that her 
Majesty herself had connived at the King's assassination, he 
did not hesitate to ally himself to the powerful party which 
denounced Bothwell as the concoctor of the plot and the 
actual munlerer. And so the lad reasoned with himself 
thus : 

' Renaud is the Elarl Both well's accomplice ; and his reward 
for his share in the crime is an earldom and estate. Renaud^ 



FRANgOlS TAKES A BOLD STEP zGs 

therefore, has the Queen's husband at his back, and how can 
I in my lowly sphere hope to prevail against a man so power- 
fully supported ?' 

This reflection caused poor Fnin9ois much poignant grief, 
and he even sank into despair. But when he heard that his 
foster-mother, whom he loved with all the fervency of a true 
son, had disappeared, he rose out of this despair like a young 
giant, and he said to himself : 

' Adrienne is in the power of Renaud. My time has come 
and I must act' 

To say this was easy ; to put it into execution difficult. He 
came to the conclusion by a process of instinctive reasoning 
that Renaud had taken Adrienne to his newly-4icquired castle 
on the border ; but the youth saw plainly enough that unless 
he could raise a little army of trained fighting men to attack 
the castle, he was all but powerless. To go to the Queen, to 
throw himself at her feet, to impeach Renaud of treason and 
treachery, and claim her protection and assistance seemed to 
him the only course open to him in which there was a fair 
pnimise of success. Therefore, without awaiting to consult 
any of his friends, but des|>atching a letter to Basile giving 
him the particulars, he rushed off with the impetuosity of 
youth to try and see the Queen. 

He had attired himself in the dress he usually wore when 
at the palace. It consisted of lavender hose, and a puce 
tunic slashed with white satin, and fastened at the waist with 
a broad velvet l>elt trimmed with pearls. His brown curly 
hair was brushed back, and a jaunty little cap, in colour the 
same as his tunic, was set daintily on his head. No costume 
could have set off his shapely figure to more advantage, and 
he looked singularly attractive and handsome. The Queen 
at this time was not in Edinburgh, but had gone with her 
Court, no doubt from motives of prudence, to Borthwick 
Castle, a seat of the I^ird of Crookstons, and situated about 
ten miles fnim the capital. Francis, therefore, procured a 
horse from his friend (veoffrey, the tajister, in the market- 
place, and rode out to Borthwick. The castle was jealously 
guanled, for the Queen had strong reason to fear her enemies. 
The men-at^rms at the entrance gate refused to admit him, 
although they knew him, and as he appeared excited and 
refused to tell his errand, they confined him for a time in the 
guard-room, until by his appeals he prevailed u|K>n the 



264 BASILE THE JESTER 

captain of the guard to convey a message to her Majesty, 
craving her to grant him an interview, as he had an important 
communication to make. 

The Queen received the message with some surprise, not 
unmingled with indignation, for she had felt very angry that 
Francois had disobeyed her commands to return before, to say 
nothing of the part which, according to Renaud, he had 
played in Basile's disappearance. But thinking that now he 
might have come to caution her against some conspiracy, for 
she still believed that at heart he was loyal, she gave orders 
that he was to be admitted to her presence. But wishing, at 
the same time, to teach him a lesson and administer a rebuke, 
she added that if he bore any weapon he was to be deprived 
of it, and was to be conducted into her presence as a prisoner, 
between two men-at-arms. 

Fran9ois heard this order with surprise and even alarm. 
But he had no alternative but to comply, and so, delivering up 
his dagger, the only weapon he carried, he proceeded between 
the two soldiers to the reception-room. 

Her Majesty was seated in a large straight-backed chair of 
carved oak with arms representing lions. Near her stood 
Bothwell, and she was surrounded by her maids and personal 
attendants, while on each side of the room a dozen hack- 
butters stood, wearing helmets and steel corslets. 

Fran9ois was bewildered, and scarcely noted anything or 
anybody but the Queen herself, who frowned severely, and 
received him with an austerity that was somewhat unusual 
with her. Fran9ois knelt down before her, and waited for her 
to speak. She allowed some moments to elapse before she 
did so. Then : 

' We have given thee audience, boy, since thou hast stated 
that thou hast important information to convey to us. But 
we are angered with thee, for thou art an ingrate, and since 
thou hast chosen to return at last, we shall hold thee prisoner 
for a while until we have marked our displeasure of thy 
conduct.' 

Fran9ois's heart sank, for the Queen's tone and manner gave 
him little hope that his mission would succeed. He raised 
his eyes to her face, which was darkened with anger, and 
seemed clouded with care and anxiety; then he glanced 
hastily round to see if Renaud was present, and he was some- 
what reheved to find he was not; then, lowering his eyes 



FRANgOlS TAKES A BOLD STEP 265 

once more to the floor, he said in 'sad and submissive 
tones: 

' Alas, your Majesty ! I am filled with woe that I have in- 
curred your anger, but I would crave your Majesty to believe 
that I am not an ingrate.' 

' Well, well,* exclaimed the Queen a little impatiently, ' we 
will hear later what justification thou hast to make for thy 
conduct But to thy purpose now. What errand has given 
thee the boldness to brave our vrrath and seek an interview 
with us ? We know how to reward services ; and if thou hast 
brought us information of value, we may be disposed to deal 
leniently with thee.' 

' An it please you, your Grace, it is a personal matter, and 
I have come to humbly crave your Majesty's aid.' 

' Thou hast boldness, by my faith,' said the Queen some- 
what haughtily, and failing to guess his errand. 

' Ay, your Majesty, an it so please you,' exclavned Fran«;ois, 
gaining courage, ' since I come on behalf of your Majesty's 
faithful ser>'ant, and my foster-mother, Adrienne de Bois.' 

' Ah, by the Mass ! now, then, do we understand thy l)old- 
nets, and can pardon it.' 

' I have heanl, your Majesty, that Mademoiselle Adrienne 
has lH*en carried off.' 

' Where hast thou so heard ?' exclaimed the Queen, [)eering 
into his face. 

' It is so rumoured.' 

' Rumour hath the better of us, then,' said her Majesty, 
' since we know it not Thy foster-mother hath disappeared, 
it is true, but no evidence has been given us that she w&s 
forcibly taken away, though, {)erhaps, thou hast secret know- 
le<lge of that ' 

' In truth, it is so,' cried Francois, impetuously and il logi- 
cally. 

'Hast thou proof of thy statement?' the Queen asked 
quickly. 

* I have no such proof yet, your Majesty, but right well do 
I know that it must be so. Nay, your Majesty ; an you will 
but consider how truly my foster-mother loved you, and how 
truthful and faithful she was, your Majesty will feel that 
nothing on earth could have caused her to desert you save 
force.* 

The Queen looked surprised, even amazed and bewildered. 



266 BASILE THE JESTER 

and turned to her husband inquiringly ; but before he could 
make any remark, she asked of Francois : 

' By Heaven, boy ! thy words cause us to suspect treachery ! 
Hast thou suspicion of anyone who could have done this 
deed ?' 

' An it so please you I have, your Majesty.' 

' Speak out then, and say to whom thy suspicion points. But 
have a care, lest thou impeach wrongously. Who is't upon 
whom thy suspicions fall ?" 

' On him whom your Majesty has hitherto believed to be 
faithful — ^your Majesty's chief physician, Renaud.' 



CHAPTER LV. 

IN THE GRIP OF HIS FOK. 

This accusation fell on all present, the Queen included, like a 
thunderbolt, and for some moments there was the silence of 
intense astonishment Then her Majesty spoke. She was 
flushed and evidently excited. 

' Have a care, boy, and remember it is against thine own 
father thou bringest this grave charge. Hast proof of what 
thou sayest ?' 

' No, your Majesty ; but ' 

'Thou hast no proof,' cried the Queen, fairly trembling 
with passion — ' thou hast no proof, and yet thou hast dared to 
impeach thine own sire !' 

' He is not my sire, your Majesty,* Fran9ois made answer, 
feeling very uncomfortable, and wondering why her Majesty 
should be so enraged. 

' By my sainted ancestors, but this is audacity, and seemeth 
like madness !' the Queen exclaimed wrathfully. Then she 
turned to her husband and said something to him, and he 
issued an order to a gentleman-in-waiting, who immediately 
retired. 

During the above conversation Bothwell had remained 
silent, but by no means uninterested. He firmly believed 
now that Renaud was the abductor of Adrienne, but he was 
puzzled to understand what Fran9ois meant by saying that 
Renaud was not his sire. 

The Queen herself was irritated against Francois for not 



IN THE GRIP OF HIS FOR 267 

having retumed when she had first commanded him to do so; 
and knowinj^, as she undoubtedly did, that Kenaud had it in 
his power to render himself very dangerous to her and Both- 
well, she was afraid of offending him. 

' We have sent for thy father, lK)y,* she said sternly, and 
much to Francois's discomfiture. ' We will hear his version of 
the story in thy presence, and we will judge thee according to 
thy answers.' 

Francois would have made some reply, but was prevented 
doing so by the entrance of Renaud himself. Renaud had 
not been informed by the messenger that Francois was 
present, and his surprise, therefore, on beholding him was 
exceedingly great. 

' My Lonl of Hawksvale,' said the Queen, ' we have sent 
for thee that thou may est refute a certain grave charge bniught 
against thee by thy son — to wit, that thou hast carried off our 
friend and his foster-mother, Adrienne de Bois.' 

Renaud turned deadly jMile, and the unexpectedness of this 
accasation did, for the moment, deprive him of his presence of 
mind, and his consequent confusion did not esca|)e the keen 
eyes of his enemy. Both well. But Renaud had studied de- 
ception and self-control too long to be lost in an emergency 
of this kind. And scarcely deigning to look at the still 
kneeling Fran^ois^ he replied in cold and unembarrassed 
tones: 

' I trust, your Grace, that, during the years I have 1)een in 
your Majesty's service, I have given such ample evidi-nce of 
my devoticm to your Majesty that you will not for a moment 
suspect me of conduct so base. But with your Majesty's 
gracious leave, 1 would ask my unworthy son what grounds he 
has for his accusation ?' 

Then up s|M>ke Fran^*ois bravely : 

' Knowing thy dect*ptive nature and the persecution to 
which thou hast subjected Mademoiselle Adrienne, I can have 
no doubt that her disap|M.^arance is due to thee.' 

This answer called forth laughter fn>m the Queen, and an 
ironical and contemptuous sneer fnim Renaud, who retorted : 

' Knowing the wickedness of thy heart, I was prt*|)ared for 
ingratitude ; but I am surprised that thou shouldst have the 
audacity to present thys<*lf before the Queen's Majesty, and 
bring such a heavy charge against me without proof of thy 
fttatementi.' 



268 BASlLfi THE JESTER 

Renaud spoke with seeming indignation and self-possession, 
but he was ill at ease nevertheless, and he knew that the only 
way to protect himself was by unblushing efirontery, and by 
giving the lie point-blank to Fran9ois's charge. 

' Boy, what hast thou to say now ?' the Queen demanded 
sternly. 

Fran9ois was exceedingly downcast, and saw now that he 
had made a ridiculous error in coming to the G>urt without 
one atom of evidence to support his charge. 

' Nothing ; an it please you, your Majesty, save what I have 
already said,' he answered dejectedly. 

* Then dost thou deserve a whipping/ answered the Queen, 
* and thy father will do well to administer it to thee.' 

Francois fired up a little at this, and exclaimed : 

' Your Majesty, Munsieur Renaud is no father of mine.' 

Renaud visibly started, but he answered quickly : 

' Methinks, your Majesty, that since the unfortunate boy 
took to associating with traitors to your Majesty his wits have 
left him.' 

Forgetting himself for the moment and that he was in the 
presence of the Queen, Francois rose up strong in his indigna- 
tion, and with clenched fists and knit brows he cried out 
angrily : 

' 1 am no traitor, sir, nor do I consort ynth traitors. 'Tis 
thou who art the traitor.' 

' Peace, rude boy !' exclaimed the Queen with great warmth. 
' This unseemly conduct becometh thee not in our presence ; 
an thou keepeth not a civil tongue in thy head, we will find 
means to give thee lessons in good behaviour.' 

Francois stood before the Queen abashed and with bowed 
head. He was burning with indignation, and wrath against 
Renaud made it difficult for him to restrain his feelings from 
finding vent in a passionate outburst of anger. But he had the 
good sense to see that any display of stubbornness on his part 
would only lead him into further trouble, for it was very 
obvious her Majesty was highly offended with him, and was 
in no mood to be trifle<l with. She was really offended, not 
because he had appeared now to lay a charge against Renaud, 
but because he had refused to obey her commands and return 
to the Court. She could not brook disobedience, and her 
sense of dignity was always sorely wounded when her com- 
mands were not immediately complied with. 



IN THE r.ItlP OF HIS FOE 26!) 

With the quickness of obscrvntjon which rarely fniletl him, 
It<fnitu<l saw his opportunity now to get Francois, whom he 
reitlly feared, into his {tower ; and so, assuming n tone of 
sorrow rather than anf^ci*, he said ; 

'Fain would I spare the rash boy, your Majesty, but my 
duty to you is, as it has ever been, my first coiisidenitiim. 
What may be the true motive of his returning to the Court 
now, 1 know not, but doubtless he has been moved to it by 
some of his wicketl associates. For, in spite of your Majesty's 
expressed wishes, he has never ccascil to strive after Lilian 
Bomcester, and he is now the tool of her fanatical father, 
who, as your Majesty is aware, is your deadly enemy.' 

The Queen seemed roused to almost ungovernable passion 
as this was said, arid with startling energy she crietl : 

' If, as thy father says, thou art the tool of the arch-rebel 
Bomcester, by Heaven, thy life is not safe from our just anger! 
S]>eak ; what host thou to say in thy defence f 

Fran^-ois drew himself u[i proudly as he answered : 

'What Monsieur Itenaud says is knowingly false, your 
Majesty.' 

' Hast thou the audacity to deny that thou lovest Bom- 
eester's daughter ^ said Itenaud quickly. 

' No, I deny not that' 

' I crave your Majesty to note his confession,* cried Itenautl, 
Hccing lliat he had scorp<l a point. 

' But I do deny,' Fran^-ois went on, ' that I am the tmil of 
IJIian's fatlier.' 

' Aiul yet thou wert pr<-sent at his house when the vile ])lot 
was hatt'he<l fur the slaying of hi-r Majesty's most faithful 
friend awl servant, David Itizzio,' Itenaud saitl. 

Franks turned deadly |Mle as he saw tliat he was tmpj>cd. 
He stood mute and with downcast eyes before the angered 
< jueen, who exclaimed, almost fiercely : 

' is this thing thy sire accuses thee of true or not ? If thou 
set store u|N>n thy honour or value ujmn thy life, contra- 
dict it' 

' He cannot,' exclaimed Rcnaud, with some show of excitc- 

' Sgieak, boy," crii'<l the (Jueen, ' or has Heaven stricken thee 
mute for thy wickedness ?' 

• It is true I was in the house,' Franvois faltered, ' but I 
knew not of the conspiracy when I went' 



270 BASILE THE JESTER 

' A sorry tale/ the Queen said, with a sneer. ' Strange, 
indeed, it is that I should have been so deceived in thee. I 
took thee for innocence itself, but now I see thou art a viper, 
and hath stung the hand that hath nourished thee.' 

Carried away by his feelings, Fran9ois threw himself at the 
Queen's feet, and in passionate appeal said : 

' Oh, your Majesty, think not so ill of me, for by the light 
of heaven and the glory of the stars, I am no traitor, but 
am, as I have ever been, your Grace's humble and devoted 
servitor.' 

' And yet thou couldst ally thyself with fiendish knaves who 
murdered our loyal and beloved servant' 

' Give me leave, I crave you, your Majesty, to speak in my 
own behalf.' 

' Say on, then,' she said sternly ; ' but an thou hast no 
better explanation than that thou hast already given, it were 
better far that thou shouldst keep thy speech, lest thy tongue 
put a noose about thy neck.' 

' It is true, your Majesty, that I seem guilty,' said Fran- 
9ois in broken accents, ' but my greatest guilt is that I have 
loved Lilian.' 

' And if that were all, we might forgive thee,' the Queen 
remarked in softened tones, ' for thou art young, and Lilian is 
a comely wench, though she be but a daughter of Satan.' 

Renaud, half fearing from this that his plans might be de- 
feated, and that Francois might gain the Queen's favour again, 
cried out sharply : 

' Let not his smooth face and oily tongue deceive you, your 
Majesty, for, though he is my flesh and blood, I denounce him 
as a traitor, for he it was who gave access to the conspirators 
to your Majesty's cabinet when David Rizzio was murdered.' 

' How say you now, boy }* cried the Queen, half starting 
forward, while her face was crimson with rage. 

' Alas, madame, it is too true !' Fran9ois moaned, as he sank 
to the ground overwhelmed with shame and confusion. 

This confession caused general amazement, but Renaud 
stood as immovable as a statue, though his pale, cruel face 
showed the joy his heart felt In a few moments Fran9ois 
seemed to recover himself, for the desperate situation in 
which he was placed inspired him with the energy of despair. 
He sprang up, and stretching forth his hands supplicatingly 
to the Queen, he cried in piteous accents : 



IN THE GRIP OF HIS FOE 271 

• Oh, your Majesty, forgive me ; for, save in this one thing, 
I have been true to you ! And even into that I was drawn 
against my will. Sfy love for Bomcester's daughter hath 
blinded me, and I think I have been mad.' 

' Ay, mad, indeed !* the Queen replied in a tone of sorrow. 

' But I will be so no longer,' Francois pursued. ' Give me 
but a ehance to show my devotion to your Majesty, and my 
one em)r shall be atoned for by lifelong fidelity. But I pray 
your Majesty to spare me from Monsieur Renaud. He is not 
my sire, but my bitterest enemy.* 

' He hath confessed himself to be mad, and now he gives 
evidence of it,' said Renaud caustically. 

' What dost thou mean by saying thou art not the K^irl of 
Hawksvale's son ?' the Queen asked. 

' There is no relationship between us, your Majesty,' an- 
swered Francois, 'but for purposes of his own Monsieur 
Renaud hath claimed me.' 

' Who is thy father, then ?' sternly demanded the Queen. 

'Alas! I know not.' 

' Hast thou proof then of what thou statest in reference to 
my Lonl of llawksvale V 

' Alas, your Majesty, I have not !' moaned the unhappy boy. 

' A sorry talc, forsooth,' said the Queen, with a little laugh 
of scorn, ' and it only serves to prove thy baseness. We fain 
would let thy youth count something in thy favour ; but 
nevertheless thy wickedness cannot be allowed to |)ass un- 
noticed, and we will consider what thy punishment shall be.' 

This was Renaud's opportunity, and, moving forward a pace 
or two, he dropped on one knee, and said : 

' Your Majesty, in denouncing my own son I have done no 
more than my duty as your Majesty's devoted and faithful 
servant. But now I crave your (xrace to let me supplicate on 
his iK'half It were better for him that he were remc»ve<l from 
temptaticm's way, and with your Grace's leare I will take him 
to Hawksvale, and endeavour to turn him into a loyal subject 
and a dutiful son.' 

Francois's heart went cold as he heard this, for its meaning 
to him was only too ap|>arent ; and he knew that Renaud, 
reganling him as a danger to himself, would with dialx>lical 
treachery hesitate not to kill him if once he got him into his 
IKiwer and away from the palace. Unable, therefore, to 
control himself, he exclaimed : 



272 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Your Grace, I do protest- 



' Peace, knave !' cried the Queen in a commanding tone. 
' Protests come ill from such as thou. Be dumb, an thou hast 
aught of shame left in thee. Captain of the guard, make this 
youth thy prisoner, and hold him at the peril of thy life subject 
to our disposal. My Lord of Hawksvale, arise. We will 
confer anon with thee.' 

Two men-at-arms stepped forward in obedience to their 
captain's order, and laid their hands on Fran<^ois's shoulder. 
He was truly dumb now ; for he was stunned and over- 
whelmed, and the room seemed to swim about his head. 
He had but a vague and dreamy notion of being led away, 
and thrust into a cell, where he gave himself up to utter 
despair. 

CHAPTER LVI. 

AN AWFUL JOURNEY. 

For three days Fran9ois continued a prisoner, knowing nothing 
and seeing no one save a soldier who twice a day brought him 
food. The suspense and uncertainty were maddening, but 
what could he do ? He had brought the trouble upon him- 
self ; and he saw now, when too late, the fatal error he had 
committed in coming to the palace to lay a charge against 
Renaud without one atom of evidence to support it He knew 
perfectly well that having at last fallen into Renaud's web, he 
was not likely to get free again, except by some chance little 
short of a miracle ; for though he had been such a favourite 
with the Queen he felt that he had ofiended her beyond hope 
of forgiveness, and he could not even comfort himself with the 
reflection that though he had oflPended his Queen, he had gained 
Lilian for his wife. In fact, it was highly probable that he 
would never so much as behold her again : and then, to crown 
his misery, his foster-mother had been carried away, and, for 
aught he knew, was in deadly peril. 

As these things all presented themselves to him, his heart 
felt twisted and tortured, and he was numbed by a chilling 
sense of blank des{)air ; for if the Queen refused to concern 
herself as to his fate, there was no one else who would, save 
Basile. But, then, what could Basile do.^ He was power- 
less against the formidable cabal which existed about the 



AN AWFUL JOURNEY «7S 

Queen. In supposing that her Majesty was utterly indiflTerent 
to his fate, however, Francois misjudged her ; the fact was, 
she was far too harassed and absorbed with her own pressing 
affairs to give much personal attention to him. She heard the 
muttcrings of the rising storm that her subjects were brewing, 
and she could no longer be indifferent to the clamourings of 
her offended people. The murder of the King and her 
marriage with his murderer had caused indignation from one 
end of the kingdom to the other, and it was with ]>ained 
anxiety and strained nerves that she looked towanls the future. 
It seemed dark enough in all truth. Not a gleam shone to 
give her hope. If she could have stifled public opinion all 
might have been well ; but it was impossible to do that 
Treason was rife, and her enemies were leagued together to 
cause her downfall. Under these circumstances it was little 
wonder that she did not give any serious consideration to 
Fran9ois's case. And when the day after the lad's arrest 
Renaud went to her and suggested that he should be allowed 
to deal with him, she felt relieved, and was glad to be rid of 
an annoyance. 

' We give him into thy charge, my lord,' she said, ' for thou, 
as his father, art his natural guanlian ; and though thou hast 
not hesitated to give us information concerning his decep- 
tion, thy natural affection will prompt thee to stop short of 
severity. Nay, my lord, it is my |>erKonal wish that the boy 
shall' be well cared for. I have strong regard for him and can 
take no serious view of his youthful follies. I need staunch 
friends, and he will make one, I doubt not Therefore guard 
him well and tenderly.' 

It was unfortunate for Francois that the Queen had thus, 
all unwittingly, completely played into the hands of Renaud, 
who fairly chuckled to himself as he thought : ' While the lad 
lives he will ever be a menace to me. Hasile has evidently 
told him t(X) much, and I must remove him.' 

Hy removing him Renaud did not mean to take his life at 
once. That would have been to jeofNirdize himself, and he 
was too wily to walk into a noose with his eyes open. But 
his ingenious brain at once i*on(*i*ived a plan which would 
avert suspicion from himself, and yet eflV'ctually silence the 
lad. 

On the third night of his imprisonment Francois had sunk 
down on his hard |Millet almost maddened with suspense. He 

18 



274 BASILE THE JESTER 

was like a rat in a trap, and could do nothing but beat himself 
to death against his bars. And all this time his dear foster- 
mother might be in deadly peril, or suffering persecution worse 
than death, yet he could not raise a hand to aid her. Oh, 
how he cursed his folly now, and was half tempted to dash his 
head against the stone wall in very disgust and vexation with 
himself. But suddenly he started as he heard the key grate 
in the lock of his prison door. Then the door opened, and 
four men armed, one of them carrying a torch, entered. 
Fran9ois started to his feet, for his first thought was that they 
had come to murder him. 

' What wouldst thou with me ?' he cried before either of 
them spoke. 

Then one whom he instantly recognised as Bastian answered : 
' We have onlers to remove thee ; come !' 

Francois's heart almost leapt into his mouth, for those words 
coming from the lips of that man sounded to him like a knell 
of doom. He knew that Bastian was his enemy, for had he 
not stricken him to the earth on the night that he succeeded 
in releasing Basile ? But even in this dreadful moment his 
courage did not desert him, and he glanced round to see if 
there was anything he could use as a weapon. But there was 
nothing — absolutely nothing. So he placed his back against 
the wall, and said : 

' By whose orders hast thou come }' 
' Thou wilt know anon,' Bastian made reply. 
' 1 will know now, ere I go with thee a step,' cried Francois 
excitedly. 

' Oh, oh ! that is a big squeak for so small a mouse !' laughed 
Bastian, advancing a step or two. Then, with his habitual 
coarseness, he added : ' Come ; I have no time to waste in 
parley uig with thee.* 

'W^here dost thou intend to take rae.^' Francois gasped^ 
growing cold with despair, and wondering whether it would not 
be better to fly at these men and let them hack him to pieces 
with their weapons rather than 'endure sus|>ense and un- 
certainty any longer. 

' I am not here to answer thy questions,' growled Bastian. 
Then he added savagely : ' Come, or the devil seize m^ "f I 
don't smite thee on the jowl !* 

' I'll not go with thee,' exclaimed Francois firmly, ' unless 
thou hast her Majesty's orders for my removal.' 



AN AWFUL JOURNEY 275 

Without another word Bastian threw himself u|K)n him and 
said something to his companions. In an instant the ixM)r lad 
was envelo])ed in a sack or cloak and bound tightly witii ropes. 
Then he w<is lifled up and carried away, and presently he was 
placed on a horse, his legs l>eing freed for the purpose. A man 
sat behind him, and he knew that two other horsemen ac- 
com|>anied, one on each side. They rode along for alN)ut an 
hour, then stop|)ed, and he was lifted off the horse and frei^d 
from the sack and rope ; but his arms were secured to his side 
by a cord ]>assed n>und his waist. 

The night was inky black. Not a star glimmered in the 
sky, and a cold wind swept dismally by. Franvois, who had 
iR^en half suffocated by the sack, was dazed and stu|)efied. 
He was bruised and sore, too, with the rough handling he had 
received. He had no idea who his ctmipanions were, nor 
where he was being taken to. The lethargy of stu|M)r seemed 
to come upon him, and* he could offer no resistance nor ask any 
question. In a dreamy way he was conscious of being lifted 
on the horse again ; of being grip|)ed finnly by stnmg amis, 
and of then tearing along with the wind blowing coldly in his 
face. 

There followed then a period of semi-unconsciousness. 
Worn out with sus|>ense, anxiety, and want of sleep, the |M>or 
youth fell into a feverish slumber, being sup|K>rted all the 
time by the man behind, who was no other than the creature 
Bastian. 

Thnmghout the long, dark night the ride was continued, 
until the morning had well advanced. Then a rest was made 
at a hostel and horses were changed. Francois |Nirt(K)k of 
some refreshment, and felt better. Some little time before 
coming to the hostel he had been relieved of the cord ; but 
Bastian, with brutal fen>city, had sworn an oath that if he 
s|M)ke to anyone or attempted to esca|>e he would Ik* cut down. 
Bastian's com|»anions were two well-armed, |M)werfuK and 
rough-lcMiking men of martial bearing. They were, in i'twi, 
retainers of Uenaud, and had s|>ent the gn*ater imrt of their 
lives in l>order warfare. The warning given by Biistian wxis 
wholly unnecessary, for F'ranvois recognised only t«>o surely 
how utterly useless it would be to attempt to esca|)e. The 
country they were in was wild forest-land, and there was not 
even a remote chance of obtaining assistance. He therefore 
very wisely resignetl himself to the inevitable, and detennined 



276 BASILE THE JESTER 

to wait for a more fitting opportunity. He guessed now, and 
guessed rightly, that he was being taken to Renaud's newly- 
acquired castle. He knew nothing about it beyond that it 
was somewhere near the border ; but he had no doubt in his 
own mind that he was being taken there for some sinister 
purpose. And if he had wanted any confirmation of this, he 
surely would have had it in the ferocious reply Bastian made 
to a question he ventured to put as to why he was being taken 
southwards. 

'Thou art being taken that I may have the pleasure of 
strangling thee !' the human brute hissed into the youth's ear 
as they sped along, after leaving the hostel. * Thou brokest 
my pate once, and now I am going to wring thy neck as a 
market harridan wrings the neck of a hen. Thou art spawn, 
and I hate thee.' 

For this statement Bastian had no warrant, inasmuch as his 
orders had been simply to convey Fran9ois to Hawksvale and 
to guard him close. But the creature knew perfectly well 
that Renaud, his master, had ulterior and sinister designs with 
reference to the disjxxsal of the lad. 

The savage rejoinder causetl Fran9ois's blood to boil with 
indignation, and for a moment he was half tempted to turn 
and smite the brute with all his strength in the face. But, 
fortunately, he checked himself, and kept his wrath under 
control ; but he did not venture on any further questions, 
nor, in fact, on speech of any kind ; and for hours they rode 
along in silence. The captive's brain, however, was in a whirl 
with many conflicting 'houghts and plans for his escape, all of 
which, however, seemed to hold out no hope to him. The 
weather was wretched, and had been so all day. A drizzling 
rain had been falling since daylight, and the forests were 
damp, dripping, and dreary. The sodden ground, with its 
litter of dead, mouldering leaves, was swampy and springy, 
and the horses' feet sank into it at ever}*^ step, so that the pace 
was slow. The air was saturated with an earthy, mouldy 
flavour, and the sombreness and general melancholy were most 
depressing. Francis felt this depressing influence in a very 
marked degree, and he almost wished something would happen 
by which he could sacrifice his life. He was wet, faint, and 
cramped, and begged his captors to allow him to get down for 
a few minutes in order to stretch his limbs and arouse his 
sluggish blood. Bastian at last consented to this, not for his 



AN AWFUL JOURNEY 277 

captive's sake, but his own ; for he was anxious to refresh 
himself, and sufir^ested that an attempt should be made to 
kindle a fire in order that they might dry themselves, and 
warm s<mie wine they carried with them. They therefore 
dismounted in a part of the forest where some trees had been 
felled, and afler many ineffectual attempts they at lenp^h 
succeeilcd in kindling a few sticks into a blaze by saturating 
pieces with eau-de-vie, of which they had a flask amongst 
their stores. Francois had taken part in gathering sticks, and 
from the moment he alighted from the horse he resolved to 
make a dash for freedom ; but when he glanced round at 
the impenetrable forest, and remembered that he was totally 
unarmed, and that his captors were rough, powerful, and even 
ferocious men, he saw how hopeless it would be to even make 
the attempt With a sigh, therefore, he once more resigned 
himself to his fate. Then, suddenly, he noticed that one of 
the soldiers had placed his arquebuse against a tree while he 
had gone off* to collect sticks for the Are. The sight of the 
gun was too much for Francois. He made a spring for it, 
seized it, and darted off* into the forest Bastian at the 
moment was kneeling down blowing the fire with his breath ; 
but realizing in an instant that his prisoner had escaped, he 
gave vent to a terrible oath, then sprang to his feet and 
pursued the runaway. On went the fugitive and pursuer, 
crashing through the wet undergrowth, ilnd plunging knee-deep 
into the sodden moss which everywhere abounded. Bastian 
was fleet of foot and determined, and had soon gained on the 
other. Francois soon saw that he could not outstrip him ; he 
therefore turned, stopped, and flred his piece at his enemy. 
Want of deliberation and coolness, however, was fatal to his 
aim, and the bullet went wide of its mark, finding its billet in 
the trunk of an oak-tree. With a hoarse growl of sullen rage 
Bastian bounded forward, and coming within striking distance 
of the unfortunate youth, he felled him to the ground by a blow 
from his flst llien, falling on top of him, he seized him by the 
thnmt, and shaking him as a terrior would shake a rat, he 
hissed in his passion : 

' Satan consume thee, thou son of a witch ! Twice now 
hast thou attempted my life, and were it not that I wish to 
keep thee for future torture I would break thy ugly |>ate to 
mash. Oh, by St. Anthcmy, but I'll make thy hide smart for 
this ! Get up, dog !' As he spoke he kicked Fran^x>is^ who. 



278 BASILE THE JESTER 

seeing that all hope had gone^ rose mechanically. He was 
covered with blood from the blow the coward had dealt him^ 
and, half stunned, he staggered along in the direction Bastian 
indicated. In a few moments the other two men came 
running up. They had heard the firing of a gun and taken 
up the chase. When the spot was reached where the horses 
had been left, Bastian once more bound Fran9ois with cords, 
drawing them so tight that they cut into the poor youth's 
flesh, but never a groan or a murmur escaped his lips. The 
journey was instantly resumed, and the rain, which had 
hitherto been a drizzle, commenced to descend in torrents, 
while a fierce gale rose at the same time, and shrieked like an 
evil thing through the forest, tearing great branches off the 
trees, and dashing the rain with stinging force against the 
horsemen. For hours they rode on, at one time crossing a 
great open moorland, where wind and rain made progress 
almost impossible. Then night fell — night pitch-dark, drear, 
and stormy. 

In a little while the dripping, steaming horses were reined 
in, a horn was blown, a challenge was given and answered, 
there was a rattling of chains, a lowering of a drawbridge. 
The horses crossed the bridge and clattered into the paved 
courtyard of the Lord of Hawksvale's stronghold. Fran9ois 
was lifted down, and his bleeding, aching limbs were released 
from the cords. The flaring light of a single torch, held by 
an old man, brought into weird relief a group of armed men, 
all eager and curious to see the new arrival ; but beyond this 
Francois could make out nothing save the frowning walls of the 
castle entrance. In a few moments he was roughly seized by 
the shoulders, pushed forward for some yards, and then through 
a doorway into a room of some kind, and Bastian's harsh, 
grating voice growled : 

* There's thy lodging for the night' 

The door was shut to with a bang, and the captive was in 
total darkness without the least idea of the kind of place he 
was in. He therefore dropped down on the floor, and, utterly 
worn out, made a pillow of his arm and fell asleepu 



PARTED FOR EVER 279 



CHAPTER LVII. 

PARTED FOR EVER. 

While Francois was being conveyed a captive to the strong- 
hold of Hawksvale, the rising stonn of public anger against 
the Queen and her husband was already filling the air with its 
moaning. So intense was tlie feeling of indignation against 
Bothwell, that a confederacy had been formed of some of the 
most powerful nobles in tlie land ; the object of this con- 
federacy being the overthrow of the Earl of Bothwell and the 
punishment of the King's munlerers. As rats are said to leave 
a sinking ship, so did his so-called friends desert him when 
they saw how hopeless was his cause. Even the traitors and 
knaves, who hacl aided and abetted him, assumed a virtue 
which they did not possess, and went over to the stronger 
side ; so that it soon became evident the hurl's case was indeed 
desperate. 

Unaware to what extent defection had taken place, and how 
)x>werful was the conspiracy against him, Bothwell, although 
knowing that all his skill and cunning would be required to 
maintain his position, did not by any means take a gloomy 
view of matters ; while his myal wife, strong in the iK'lief in 
her own power over her fieople, and in her monarchical in- 
fallibility, never dreamed of yielding to the clamour of the 
|M)pulace. She w^is infatuated and fascinati*<l with Bothwell. 
The history of woman's weakness would almost fail to present 
a ]Mirallel case of blind infatuation, such as led Mary (jueen of 
Scots to peril herself, her son, her thnme, and her cimntry. 
The responsibilities resting on her were ignored ; the welfare 
of the nation was forgotten ; the stability of her throne was 
allowed to sap and wither. But .soon her eyes were to be 
o|>ene<l, with a shock that startled her into a knowledge of the 
danger that menacetl her. 

She had .summoned her nol)les to attend her with their feudal 
forces, so that an ex]>edition might l>e sent into Liddcsdale, 
where the iMirderers were burning and ravishing the country. 
l*his ex|H*dition was to be c<mimanded in |K*rs(m by l^ithweli, 
l)ut he waited in vain for the nobles and their followers. Not 
a single one obeyed the n>yal command ; and then, for the 
first Ume^ the Queen began to realize how widespread was the 



280 BASILE THE JESTER 

dissatisfaction against her. And with this disobedience the 
spirit of insurrection displayed itself; several of the nobles 
raised an army of two thousand men, and marched on Borth- 
wick, where her Majesty was still staying. Their object was 
to seize Both well, and a wing of their army pushed on by a 
forced march, hoping to surprise the flarl. Bothwell, however, 
was not quite deserted by his spies and friends, and he was 
apprised in time that his enemies were sweeping down upon 
him. After a hasty conference, therefore, with the Queen, 
he made a precipitate escape, and waited, concealed in a wood, 
for her to join hinL That same evening, with the aid of some 
faithful attendants, she disguised herself as a man and left the 
castle on horseback. Bothwell met her about two miles away, 
and then, both riding the same horse, they sped as fast as the 
animal could carry them to Dunbar Castle, where they arrived 
as dawning day was making a silvery gleam on the sleeping 
sea, for the season was June, and the gentle breath of summer 
had replaced the fierce ravings of the winter winds. 

The Queen was exasperated and angered beyond control, 
and she and her husband saw that unless they could at once 
raise a powerful army their cause would be lost This feeling 
was strengthened when a little later news was brought to her 
Majesty that the confederates, disappointed in their attempts 
against Borthwick, had marched on Edinburgh, intending to 
hold the capital, and that the people had declared in their 
favour. The castle had been left by Bothwell in charge of 
his once friend and co-conspirator, James Balfour. But this 
man, with the instinct of the rat in the sinking ship, deserted 
his former companions and joined the stronger side, refusing 
to point his guns against the rebels. The confederates im- 
mediately issued a proclamation, declaring the Queen was un- 
lawfully detained by the Earl of Bothwell, who was openly 
denounced as the King's murderer, and the people were called 
upon to aid the nobles against him. The Queen immediately 
issued a counter-proclamation, in which the confederate lords 
were arraigned as traitors, and all her faithful subjects were 
summoned to her standard. 

In two days* time she had collected an army of two thousand 
five hundred men, and then, without a moment's loss of time, 
she and Bothwell marched against the insurgents, so as to 
prevent them gaining any accession of strength. The Queen 
reached Gladsmoor, where she harangued her little army, and 



PARTED FOR EVER «81 

tried to inspire them with courage and devotion. Then, after 
a short rest, she led her followers to Carberry Hill, six miles 
from Edinburgh, and at this place she entrenched herself. 

In the meantime the confeclerates, being informed of her 
coming, marched out to give her battle, and instead of bearing 
the lion of Scotland as their standard, they carried a huge 
banner on which was painted a figure representing the 
murdered King lying under a tree. Beside him the young 
Prince knelt, and underneath him was written the motto, 
' Judge and avenge my cause, O Lord.' 

The lugubrious flag had moved and stirred the feelings of 
the people of Edinburgh as nothing else could have done, and 
this feeling found expression in threats and menaces — not 
against the Queen, but against Bothwell. He could not be 
indifferent to the strong manifestations of anger that were 
now made against him. But his brute courage did not quail. 
He had a desperate cause, and was prepared to fight des- 
perately. The two armies had come in sight of each other, 
the confederates forming in battle array on the heights of 
Musselburgh. In the Queen's camp was the French Ambas- 
sador, and, wishing to avoid bloodshed, he undertook to act 
the part of a mediator. With this object in view he crossed 
over to the insurgents, and besought them to lay down their 
arms. The nobles consented to do this on condition that the 
Queen would se]Mirate herself from the 'wretch, Bothwell,' 
whom one of the confederates was ready to meet in single 
C(mil>at. Fn>ni these conditions the leaders swore by oath 
they would not de|Mirt ; and downcast and sad, the Aml>assador 
returned to the Queen. He found her, dejecte€l and thought- 
ful, sitting on a hillock. She expressed herself very bitterly 
against her subjects who had risen in arms against her. The 
Frenchman tried to mollify her resentment, and |M)inted eut 
that the men in arms were still her humble and affectionate 
servants. 

• (lod's truth !* she exclaime<l vehemently, ' they show their 
affecticm very ill by running counter to what they have signed, 
and by accusing the man whom they acquitted, and to whom 
they have married me.' 

Bothwell, who was standing by, heard this, and crietl out in 
A loud voice : 

' Is it of me they complain ?' 

'I have been parleying with them,' answered the Ambassador^ 



282 BASILE THE JESTER 

' and they assure me that they are still her Majesty's loyal and 
devoted servants.' 

'What would they then?' Bothwell demanded unperi- 
ously. 

The Ambassador lowered his voice as he replied : 

'Since you wish to know, my lord, I will tell you. They 
declare themselves to be your mortal enemies.* 

Bothwell's face paled a little, and a look of fierceness came 
into it as he said between his teeth : 

' Why are they my enemies }' 

' Nay, my lord, I know not' 

' What have I done to them that they should hate me f 

* On that point I am also ignorant,' answered the Ambas- 
sador diplomatically. 

* I will tell you,' continued the Earl. ' I have never caused 
displeasure to a single one of them ; on the contrary, I have 
sought to consult them all. What they are now doing is out 
of envy for my greatness. Fortune is free to any who can 
receive her ; and there is not a man amongst them who would 
not like to be in my place. But hark ye, sir, and I pray thee 
deliver my message to them. I have no desire that there 
should be bloodshed amongst her Majesty's subjects on my 
account. Therefore let them send a true man and a gentleman 
to meet me, and I will fight him to the death between the two 
armies.' 

' Nay, my lord,' cried the Queen excitedly, ' that shall not 
be. Thy quarrel is mine also, and I shall espouse it — yea, 
though they drag me from my throne !' 

Further conversation was interrupted at this moment, as it 
was observed that the confederate army was in motion and 
marching towards them. Bothwell, therefore, moveil off 
hurriedly to marshal his troops ; and, by request of the 
Queen, the Ambassador crossed the little brook which separated 
the two armies, in order that he might make a final appeal to 
the insurgents. Seeking out the princi{)al leaders, he told them 
that he was commissioned to promise them their Sovereign's 
panlon if they would lay down their arms and return to their 
homes. 

' We are proceeding not against the Queen, but against the 
Earl of Bothwell,' cried Morton as spokesman. ' We have not 
come here to solicit pardon, but to offer it to those who have 
offended. Let her Majesty deliver up her husband's murderer. 



PARTED FOR EVER S83 

or remove him from her company, and then we will render her 
implicit obedience.' 

' That is a saucy demnnd,' said the Ambassador. 

' It is the best we can give, sir,' Morton rephed ; ' and since 
we desire not further speech with you, we beg you to with- 

Seeing that his mission had failed, the Ambassador took his 
leave and returned to Kdiiiburgh. Both armies now advanced 
towards each other. The mounted men dismounted, and sent 
their horses to the rear.* Suddenly in the Queen's army 
discontent manifested itself, and a cry arose that some 
means must be found to avoid a conflict. The Earl of Bothwell 
heard this with surprise, and the Queen grew deadly pale with 
alarm, for there was no mistaking what it meant ; indeed, she 
received immediate confirmation of her fears, as another cry 
was raised, that as it was BothwcH's quarrel he must decide it 
personally. 

' Ay, that will I,' cried Bothwell with great readiness ; and 
he nt once despatched a message to that effect to the con- 
federates, much against the Queen's wish, but she saw that 
her partisans were falling away, and that she would be left 
alone. The challenge was instantly accepted, and several 
champions offered themselves, but were rejected as not being 
of equal rank to the Earl. At length one was found whose 
social position was satisfactory. This one was Lord Lindsay, 
who had l>ecn confidential servant to the munlered King. 
Armed with a mighty two-edged sword, Lindsay stepped out 
In Avnt of both armies, and falling on his knees, he prayed 
aloud that God would strengthen his arm, and that it would 
please Ilim in His mercy tx> jtrcserve the innocent, and to 
vanquiah the vicious murderer who had shed the blood of the 
Klig. 

The unfortunate Queen was in sore distress, for she hesitated 
to expose her husband to so great a danger, notwithstanding 
that she beheld with dismay that disorder had spread amongst 
her army, and that her soldiers were fast deserting. Before 
she could come to any decision, however, one of the leaders of 
the eonfetlerates, taking advantage of the disorder, wheeled 
round Carbeiry Hill with a strong body of n)en, in onlcr to 
cut off Dothwell's retreat if he attempted flight. This muve- 
* nil WM tha ciutom ot the eonntry at tbe linw. 



284 BASILE THE JESTEE 

ment c&used a punic amongst the royal troops, who immetliately 
disbandei], and the Queen and Bothwell were left with only 
sixty gentlemen and a band of hackbutten who stood firm. 

The Queen recognised her position with a ery of despair, 
and, though deprived of eveiy hope of escape, she resolved to 
save the man she loved. She therefore sent one of her faithful 
attendants to demand for her an interview with the leader who 
had made the strategical movement. She was told that the 
lords would return to their allegiance if the man who stood 
near her, and was the murderer of the King, was dismissed 
and she would consent to follow them to Edinburgh. Id her 
dire distress, and seeing no other hope of escape, she consented 
to do this. Then she turned, with her &ce wet with tears, to 
Bothwe)], and for a few moments the two conversed together. 

' Farewell, my beloved !' the Earl cried, much agitated. 
'Farewell, but only for a short time. You will keep the 
promise of fidelity you have made to me ?' 

' Ay, as I hope for mercy,' she faltered, with a choking sob. 

The Earl wrung her hand. His page was waiting with a 
fleet horse, on to which Bothwell sprang, and, in company with 
a dozen staunch friends, galloped off* towards Dunbar; and, 
although he did not know it then, he had looked his last on 
his wife, Mary Queen of Scots. 

[Note b^' the Author. — So far as the purpose of this story 
is concerned, Bothwell will not be mentioned again. His fate, 
as the reader will no doubt know, was a strange one- With 
the dauntless courage which characterized him, he equip|>ed 
four vessels and sailed for the Orkney and Shetland Isles, 
where he hoped to maintain a footing, and ultimately raise an 
army in order to deliver the Queen. But his implacable 
enemy, the I^ird Kirkaldy of Grange, went in pursuit of him 
with a powerful fleet, and would have succeeded in capturing 
him had not the ship in which the Laird himself was sailing 
run on to a sandbank. Two of Bothwell's ships, however, 
were seized, and the Earl, finding that resistance was useless, 
sailed into the Northern Ocean, and was driven by a violent 
temjiest on to the coast of Norway. Here be fell in with a 
Danish man-of-war, which demanded his papers, but as he 
could not produce any, he was seized as a pirate and taken to 
Denmark and imprisoned by the then King, Frederic II., in 
the romantic Castle of Matmoe. Both the Queen of England 



FROM DESPAIR TO HOPE S85 

and Murray, the Refcent of Scotland, repeatedly demanded 
his surrender, hut tht King of Denmark refused to give him 
op. He thus passed nine years as a captive, almost the whole 
time in solitude, and with the dread constantly hanging over 
him that he would ultimately be surrendered. Why the King 
of Denmark kept him a prisoner so many years has never 
been satisfactorily (.■xplalneiL It is l>etieved that Bothwellwas 
subsequently poisonf^l, though this has never been authenti- 
cated. That he died in misery and wretchedness, however, 
is certain, and his closing years must have been a period of 
agoniiing torture.] 

CHAPTER LVIII. 

niOM DXSPAIH TO HOPE. 

FHANfois continued to sleep for many hours, and when he 
awoke daylight revealed to nim that he was in a smalt square 
chamber with l>are walls and a stone floor. It was lighted 
by three glaxetl slits, one in each of three sides of the room. 
In the fourth side was a large ojten chimney. For furniture 
there was a wooden stool, a large oak table, and a bedstead. 
As he glanced round) 't the bare and cheerless place, be 
guessed, and guessed rightly, that it was a room in the base- 
ment of the entrance tower. He knew perfectly well that he 
was in the keeping of his toi-diiuml father, and after what had 
passed, he could not hope for any kindness from Renaud. 

His reflections, as one mav imagine, were anything but 
cheering, and for a long time ne sat on the bed with his head 
buried in his hands. In his own misery and misfortunes, he 
did not foiget Adriennc, ami he wonilered whether she too 
was confined in this castle of the newly-created 1-larl of 
Hawks vale : 

' Basile at least will find out that 1 have been carried olf, 
and may do something,' he thought, as he remembered that he 
had written to Basile giving him particulars of his pr<i|>osed 
visit to the Queen, and of his fears that Renaud had abducted 
Adrienne. 

As to what Basile was likely to do, Frani;ois, of course, 
rould not determine, and, in fact, it was a forlorn hofx; to 
expect assistance from him, for what |iower had he against a 
man like Renaud? This soon nuide itself api>arent lo 



286 BASILE THE JESTER 

Francois as be reflected, and he grew more despondent than 
ever. 

It was a terrible trial to be cooped and caged there, with no 
knowledge as to what was next going to happen, and the 
poor youth, in his wild despair, was half tempted to try and 
beat his brains out against the stone wall. Then, in order to 
prevent himself from going mad with inactivity, he paced 
hurriedly up and down in the confined space. He climbed up 
to the slits by the aid of the table, but they commanded no 
view. They only looked into space. He tried the door, but 
it was as solid as a rock. He peered up the chimney, but 
there was only impenetrable darkness there. Then he threw 
himself on the bed again and fairly wept with desperation. 
Was it possible, he thought, that he who was yet in the spring- 
tide of his life was to be sacrificed } Would he never again 
behold Lilian, who was as his heart to him ; and was he 
banished for ever from the Queen, in whose service he would 
gladly have sacrificed his life ? 

Hour afler hour |>assed away, and nobody came to him. 
The solitude, the suspense, the uncertainty, were acute tor- 
ture, and he became feverish, excited and faint through the 
mental and nervous strain. Moreover, he was famished with 
hunger, for he had tasted no food for nearly twenty-four 
hours. Then it suddenly flashed across his mind that with 
a refinement of diabolical cruelty Renaud intended to slowly 
starve him to death. Almost beside himself with this dread- 
ful idea, he rushed at the door, but he might as well have 
rushed at the solid stone wall. He would have made just as 
much impression. He was a prisoner in the most literal 
sense, and all he could do was to trj' to endure patiently, and 
wait for what the future might bring. The day had well 
advanced before his awful suspense received some relief by 
the sound of a grating key in the lock and the shooting of the 
ponderous bolt Then the massive door swung open, and 
there appeared an old gray-headed servitor bearing some food 
and drink, while a soldier clad in armour and carrying a pike 
filled up the door^-ay. 

' I am not to be slowly starred to death then !* Francois 
exclaimed, as, springing up, he seized a beaker of wine which 
the old man carried on the platter, and drank a deep draught. 

' By the Mass, but thou hast been nearly forgotten,* said the 
old man in a trembling voice. 'Master Bastian told the 



FROM DESPAIR TO HOPE S87 

chamberlain to see tliat thou wert fed, but the chamberlttin 
h«th many thin^ on his mind and well-nigh overlooked thee. 
It was two of the clock when he gave me his command to 
convey food to thee. And, gramercy, but thou art a pretty 
Ktripling, whereas I thought they had confined some fonnid- 
able mosstroo|ter. And whence cmmest thou, and what art 
thou doing here, child ?' 

'Joseph, stop the wagging of thy tongue,' exclaimed the 
soldier sternly ; ' I had oiden to see that thou didst not talk 
to the prisoner.' 

■ (fOod matter soldier, do thy du^,' answered the garrulous 
old man, 'and I blame thee not for doing it. Nay, I should 
despise thee an thou didst not do it. But give me leave, good 
sir, to abk if thou art a father? Nay, an thou be not, I swear 
by this gray beard that thou wilt not find it in thy nature to 
be hanih with this sweet youth. Beshrew me, but he hath the 
face of a maid save for the down on his hp. What is thy 
olfence, young sir? and why has my Lord of Hawksvale 
brought thee here ?' 

During this conversation Fran^iris had been greedily devour- 
ing a cake of meal bread and a :ilice of salted venison, for he 
wax ravenously hungry, and to satisfy the cravings of Nature 
was his first consiileration. 

Joseph was s very old and loquacious man, and was certainly 
much astonished to find that the formidable ruflian he had 
e>|>ected to see turned out to be a pretty stripling. 

' My Lord of Hawksvale doesn't know himself,' said 
Franvois, in answer to the last part of old Joseph's question. 
Then suddenly it flashed through his mind that he might 
exact from the loquacious old man some infomintion as to 
whether Adricnne was or was not confined in the castle ; and 
he made a bold venture by suddenly saying, ' My Lord of 
Hawksvale hath a lady here, has he not.^ 

' Ay, in truth a, sweet creature ' 

'Joseph,' interrupted the soldier commandingly, 'thou art 
tiKi free of speech ; gather up thy platter and go thy ways.' 

' Nay, sir, I beg you let him give me the informatiun,' 
lnter|)osed Francois. ' I am an unfortunate youth, and have 
been cruelly dragged away from those who love me, anil 
whom I love, for no ofTciice. You may believe me, sir; it 
is true ; an it be not so, may Heaven forget me. 1 was a |tage 
to the Queen's Majesty.' 



288 BASILE THE JESTER 

* Come you from the Court, too ?* exclaimed Joseph. ' Why, 
the lady whom the master has brought here comes firom the 
Court also/ 

' Then she is my foster-mother, Adrienne de Bois/ exclaimed 
Francis in anguish, and wringing his hands, as his suspicions 
were thus confirmed. 

' Thy foster-mother !' Joseph cried in astonishment * God 
protect us all ! But what be the mystery ? The lord of the 
castle is a great man and in the Queen's service ; wherefore 
then does he bring thy foster-mother and thee here as his 
prisoners ?' 

Before Fran9ois could make any reply, the soldier stepped 
forward, and laying his heavy hand on Joseph's shoulder, said : 

' Come, thou must leave. I have my orders.' 

Joseph struggled to say something else, but the soldier 
hustled him out, and swung the door to with a bang. Although 
physically strengthened by the food he had eaten, Francois 
was mentally cast down by the confirmation he had received 
of his worst fears in regard to Adrienne, who he knew now 
was in the power of her enemy, Renaud. And the worst of 
it was that he, being in the same power, was utterly unable to 
help her. Before many minutes had elapsed the door once 
more opened and the soldier returned. He had come back 
simply out of curiosity. He had only just entered the service 
of the Earl of Hawksvale, and so knew nothing about him ; 
and with the natural inquisitiveness {)eculiar to all men, he 
wished to learn who the lady was who was so carefully guarded 
in the castle, and what the history of this handsome boy was. 
Leaning on his pike, he said : 

' Thou comest from the Court, boy, an I caught thy words 
aright ?* 

' In truth, sir, I do,* cried Francois, drawing hope from .the 
man's demeanour. 

'Wherefore hast thou been carried off?' 

* By my soul, I know not, save it be in revenge,' Fran9ois 
answered, with great earnestness. 

' Revenge !' sneered the soldier, ' who would wish to be 
revenged on thee } Thou art a mere sucking babe yet.' 

' Truly it is a myster}',* said Francois. ' But the lady who 
is here is my foster-mother, and she had been abducted by thy 
lord, who wishes to wed her. But she loves him not ; for he 
is black at heart and treacherous. It is not known at the 



FROM DESI'AIR TO HOPE «89 

Court who hftth taken licr, but I, xusjK'cting the cul]>rit, 
dc-uouncet) him to the (juceii's Majesty ; but, iiIhs, I wiis not 
believed, and now lie has carried me off* in order that he may 
take my life.' 

' F]o>; me and flay mc an they do,' cried tlie soldier, 'an thy 
story be true thou nrt tleservin); "f p'ty, and 1 would set thee 
free befiite thou .shouldst be injured,' 

Klated and overjoyed at the new hopes the man's words 
suddenly raised in his breast, Fran^-ois seized the soldier's 
liand and kissed it 

'Thou art n friend indeed,* he exclaimed warmly ; 'and he 
iis\urv<\ that for any service thou mayest render to me, »n 
an)|>le rewnn) will be bestowed ujmn thee. But tetl me, is 
the l-jirl of liawk^vale here now ?' 

' No ; but we have word that he conies within two days.' 

'An<! the lady, Mndeinoiselte Adrienne, where is she 
lodged r 

' That I know not, for she is not within my keeping. A 
strange woman, whom I wot not of, hath charge of her.'' 

' Canst thou not fintl out where slie is ludf^-d, an<l then set 
her am) me free ? Thy reward shall be great.' 

' Nay, that 1 eannot <lo, for I have neither influence nor 
power. But 1 ]>r<>inise thee that, an thy siory l>e true, I will 
render thee what assistance may be within my means. I must 
go now. For the [>reseut, adieu.' 

Franvois pressed the man's hniid with great warmth, and 
when the door had closed anil he was once more alone, his 
hoftes had risen so much that his feelings found vent in 
audible wonis, anil with an exprevsion of stem determination 
he muttered lietween his closed teeth ; 

' Monsieur Henaud, I am in your |Hiwer now, but you may 
be in niine later. And should that omie about, beware, for I 
have a heavy score to reckon with you.' 



CHAITEK LIX. 

THE coward's TIllL'MPH. 

Ik sending Fran^oiK to Hawksvale, ft must not be supposed 
that Itenaiid had no definite object in view. He was too 
shrewd and too far-seeing to take such a step without some 
19 



290 BASILE THE JESTER 

well-formed plan. That he was a man of extraordinaiy 
resource and exceptional ability he had proved by the way in 
which he had raised himself to power, but more particularly 
by his deahngs with the Earl of Bothwell^ who, deep and 
cunning as he was, had been quite outwitted by his rival. If 
Renaud acted boldly, he none tlie less acted cautiously, and he 
was aware that as yet his position was not sufficiently secure 
to enable him to set the Queen at defiance. But he saw 
clearly enough that trouble of a very serious nature was 
brewing, and the rising storm of public passion was making 
itself too manifest to be ignored. Who might be wrecked 
and shattered in that storm when it broke in its fury 
it was not easy to say ; for when once the angry mob let 
loose the flood-gates of its pent-up feelings, it was no re- 
specter of persons. But Renaud read the signs of the brew- 
ing storm sufficiently well to be assured that whoever else 
might escape Bothwell would not. All the outcry and all the 
menaces were for the moment directed against him, and 
Renaud experienced a sense of secret joy as he thought to 
himself : 

' Bothwell is a doomed man, and his career draws to a 
close ; for those whom he has offended are too powerful and 
too many to let him escape. But when the populace have 
wreaked their vengeance on him, they may cast their eyes on 
others, and one of those others may be myself. I must there- 
fore tiikc stej)s in time.' 

In thinking thus he did not for a moment imagine that the 
Queen herself would be overthrown ; but he felt sure that 
such changes would be effected that he could no longer liope 
to retain his ]K)sition ; and jealousy and malice would of a 
surety attack him, and he might be toppled from his position 
and lose his all by a breath of public o])inion. With his small 
retinue of fiflv followers — all he was able to retain — he could 
not hoj)e to hold his own against even the least powerful 
noble of the land. For he exercised small feudal sway, and 
being an alien, could not rally men to his sbmdard. 

His plotting and cunning brain saw all these contingencies, 
and his aim now was to guard against them. So far every- 
thing was in his- favour. He had Adrienne de Bois in good 
keej)ing under his roof, ?md his |)lan was to use every 
endeavour to persuade her to become his wife, in order that 
he might acquire her fortune. And when that was done he 






f- I 






THE COWARDS TRIUMPH «91 

would retire to France for a time, until the public agitation in 
Scotland had cahncd down. 

When chance placed Francois in his power he saw immedi- 
ately how he mi^ht usq the youth as a lever of persuasion 
with Adricinie. That is to say, by seizing the lad, carr}'ing 
him to Hawksvale, and threatening him with death if Adricnne 
would not consent to the marriage, that consent might be won. 
And so he dcs|>atchcd his faithful creature Bastian and two of 
his trusted henchmen to convey Francois to Hawksvale, and 
Bastian had orders to convey the youth into safe custody and 
return |K>st haste to the capital. Renaud made this arrange- 
ment, for he saw that matters were fast coming to a climax, 
and bi'fore the storm bn)ke he was anxious to get away ; for 
in his border castle with his fi(\y fighting men he would be 
sjife at least for a time, and if matters came to the worst he 
could »ive his skin by riding across the border. But his hench- 
man Bastian was to remain as his lieutenant and spy in 
I'xlinburgh, and keep him |M>sted up in all that was going on. 
As soon, therefore, as the wily Itidian had returned, Retmud 
lost no time in obtaining her Majesty's permission tode|)art to 
his castle, on the plea that he wished to arrange his affairs 
there and consolidate his |M>sition. The Queen gave her per- 
mission reluctantly, and perhaps would not have given it at 
all, save that she feareil that by withholding it she might 
make an open enemy of him. 

Renaud had already taken care to send all his valuables, 
including his {mpers, to his castle, so that he had nothing now 
to convey with him. I le left the capital late at night, chcN>sing 
that time from motives of pers«>nal safety, for he feared that 
if it were known that he intended to go away he might be 
st(»pp('d. When he had got fairly away he breathed a sigh 
(»f relief, an<I he res«»lved to return no more until all danger 
was |uiss(.'d. With one servant as his sole coni|Minion, he put 
spurs to his horse, and on the following evening reached 
his stronghoki. When tlie drawbridge was drawn up and the 
massive |M»rteiillis loHcred he felt safe, and as his ser\'ants 
received him with fawning and cringing he smiled with self- 
satisfaction. 

As s(N>n as he had divested himself of his travel-stained 
garments, and had fortified himself with supjier, he sent for 
Helen Macdonald. 

' How g(H*s thy charge, Helen ?' he asked. 



292 BASILE THE JESTER 

' As sullen and obstinate as ever, an it please you, my lord. 
I have watched her jealously, and guarded her closely lest 
she should escape.' 

' Thou art invaluable, good Helen. But tell me, has she 
spoken aught of me ?' 

' Never a word, sire.' 

' She has not retired yet ?* 

' No/ 

' Good. Go thou and prepare her for my coming. I would 
have speech with her before I sleep.' 

He had not forgotten his last stormy interview, and he did 
not expect to be received graciously by his wretched captive 
But he had a card to play off against her now in the person 
of Fran9ois, and he believed that by threatening to take 
Francois's life she would give her consent to marry him. 
Having assured himself that Francois was in safe keeping, 
he proceeded to Adrienne's chamber. She looked pale and 
ill, and her face wore an expression of sadness and despair. 
She received him with frigid coldness, and when he ap- 
proached her with a view to take her hand she shrank away, 
and exclaimed : 

'Though thou hast captured and crushed me, spare me at 
least from the torture of thy touch.* 

' Thy captivity does not seem to have improved thy temper,' 
he said ironically. 

' In truth no,' she answered, ' nor my opinion of thee 
either.' 

' I am sorry for that,' he replied, with affected seriousness. 
' She whom a man seeketh to marry should have a good 
opinion of her future husband.' 

' Monsieur Renaud,' she began. 

' Pardon,' he said, interrupting her. ' Pardon me for re- 
minding thee that I am the Lord of Hawksvale.' 

' My Lord of Hawksvale,' she said with contemptuous smile. 
' Thou art right A woman whom a man seeketh to marry 
should have a good opinion of him who may become the 
keeper of her heart. But you and I, my Lord of Hawksvale, 
stand in no such relative position. Thou art the keeper of 
my person, since thou hast forcibly made me thy prisoner; 
but my heart thou shalt never keep. Thou may est break it, 
but possess it — never !' 

He was a little surprised at the energy and determination 






THE COWARDS TRIUMPH 293 

slie displayed ; but believing that he was still the winner, he 
showed no concern, but said, with a self-possessed smile : 

' Be not so sure. I have tried for years to win thy heart, 
but thou hast withheld it. But my wife thou shalt l>e, whether 
1 have thy heart or no.' 

' Never,* she cried, with passionate energy. ' Thou may est 
torture me ; bum me piece by piece an thou wilt ; but marry 
thee I will not' 

Her |>ersistent determination seemed to annoy him, and he 
made answer, uttering his wonls slowly, so as to give them 
more effect : 

' Adrienne de Bois, a little while ago thou wert in a position 
to defy me ; thou art so no longer. I have here under this 
rtM>f, and as a prisoner, Francois, thy foster-son.' 

Adrienne started, and staggering a little from the shock, 
she exclaimed in faltering accents : 

' Thou liest ! Thou w<iuldst not dare to make a prisoner of 
the (Queen's favourite, even though he be thy son.' 

' l>o not deceive thyself, and rest assured that I lie not. 
He came to the Court to make a charge against me, which 
he could not sup|)ort He offended her Sfajesty, who onlered 
his arrest, and since her (irace's attention is all required to 
protect herself fnim her enraged |)eople, I have taken charge 
of him, and have had him conveyed here. His life is in thy 
hands, for shouldst thou refuse to become my wife, I will 
hang him.' 

Adrieime almost fell to the ground as this dreadful threat 
was uttered ; for her knowletlge of the man lefl her little 
room to doubt that he would put his threat into execu- 
tion. He had accpiired |x>wer, and had lK*come a des|)ot, 
and as is almost invariably the case with such men, cnielty 
was (virt of his nature. It must be iNinie in mind that 
Adrienne was |M'rfectly well aware that l>etween Renaud and 
Fran^*ois there was no love, and though the knowlcrdge that 
Renaud was not his father had bet*n kept from her Iwith 
by Fran^*i)is and Basile, she knew that Renaud detested his 
sup|>osed son, and that the detestation was returned with 
interest. 

In a few moments she rallied from the shock that Renaud's 
threat had given her, and with a ccmsiderable show of Hnn- 
ness, she said : 

'Thou art cruel and deceitful, that I know, but I will not 



294 BASILS THE JESTER 

believe thou wouldst be so barbarous as to injure tbine own 
flesh and blood. But why, I ask, shouldst thou wish to force 
me into an odious union. For odious it would be, since I 
could never give thee wifely love. Wherefore persecute me 
then with thy advances ? Is it nqjt better that thou shouldst 
seek some lady who will be able to appreciate thee ?' 

' No/ he answered ; ' an I have not thee I wiU have no one. 
I have set my mind on marrying thee, and thou shalt become 
my wife, or cease to live.' 

' Then infinitely rather would I cease to live,' she exclaimed 
vehemently. 

He smiled disdainfully as he made answer : 

' But thy foster-son — what of him ? I swear that an thou 
wilt not become my wife, I will hang him on the battlements 
before thy eyes.' 

' Thou wouldst not dare do such a cold-blooded and wicked 
deed,' she said, with a shudder of horror. 

' Would not dare !' he cried. ' Trust not too much on the 
" Would not dare," or thou mayest find thou hast deceived 
thyself. He shall as surely die, shouldst thou refuse me, as 
it is certain that I am standing here now.' 

Adrienne was so horrified, as she saw how brutal the man's 
nature was, that she covered her face with her hands and 
wept. Her grief seemed to exert some little effect on Renaud^ 
or perhaps he deemed it prudent to make a show of gentle- 
ness, for he said in sofler tones : 

'Distress not thyself so much. Take time to consider. 
Thou shalt have three whole days and nights to ponder upon 
the subject At the end of that time let thy decision be in 
my favour. Francois shall then go firee, and thou shalt find 
thou hast not done badly a(\er alL' 

' Francois is here, you say ?' she asked suddenly, looking up 
at him, and as though a new idea had struck her. 

* Ay, he is my prisoner, and well guardecL' 

' Bring him face to &ce with me, then, and I will hear what 
he has to say.' 

Renaud hesitated for some moments before answering. He 
seemed to be weighing the matter in his mind. At last he 
spoke, but cautiously : 

' I will think over thy request. Perhaps I may grant it, 
and let thee see him to-morrow. And now food-night' He 
approached nearer, as though he wished to embrace her, but 






HOW FRAN(;'OlS BEARDED THE EAHL 295 

she shrnnk away in dread, and he said : ' Wilt thou give nie 
ono little kiss ?' 

' No,* she said with a shudder. ' I^ave me, I hcf^,' 

Her refusal seemed to anger him again, and he replie<l 
sharply : 

' So be it. Thou hast three days before thee in which to 
come to thy senses. Thou wilt change thy mind before the 
end of the time. And now, gocxl-night.' 

He lefl the room hurriedly, and then Adrienne, unable to 
control her feelings longer, wept passionately ; but afler a 
while she grew calmer, and kneeling down, prayed fervently. 



CHAPTER LX. 

HOW rRAN90I8 BEARDED THE EARL IN HIS HALL. 

The day following his interview with Adrienne, the Earl of 
Hawksvale had Francois brought before him and addressefl 
him thus : 

' Fran^)is, we meet under strange circumstances, and thou 
wilt now perhafM recognise that I am no longer to be trifled 
with, and that thy opposition to me must cease. It were well 
for thee if thou wouldst see this, for though thou hast been 
ungrateful, I would fain do thee service. Thou art now my 
prisoner, and thy life is in my hands, for thou hast ofl^ended 
the Queen grievously, and she has deputed me to deal with 
thee as 1 may deem fit. But thy life shall be s|Mired, and 
thou mayest regain thy liberty by complying with my wishes.* 
He iwused, ex|>ecting an answer, and Fraii^*ois, standing erect, 
and looking proud and defiant, said : 

' And thy wishes, sir. what are thev ?* 

Renaud was annoyi'd at the brusque manner of his prisoner, 
and he gave evidence of his annoyance in his dark face. 

'()bt*dience to my commands,' he answered stendy. 

' And thy commands — are what }* 

' Thou shalt know. Thy foster-mother is beneath this roof 
at the present moment.' 

' Cowanl and liar!* cried Francois |wssionately, and intemipt- 
ing him. 'Hast thou no blushes for tfiis shameless confession ; 
When I accusetl thee l»efore the Queen's Majesty of alxluct- 
ing Mademoiselle Adrienne, thou gavest stout denial to it,' 



ft96 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Of course I did, fool/ hissed Renaud fiercely. ' Hast thou 
lived so long at Court as to be entirely ignorant of the wiles 
of diplomacy ? Didst think me so lacking in brains that I 
should employ a herald to proclaim my affairs ? My secrets 
are mine alone.' 

' I have lived long enough to have learnt the difference 
between truth and dastardly falsehood/ returned Francois 
boldly, ' and I denounce thee now as a false knave. ' 

' Have a care !' growled Renaud with flashing eyes and 
darkening brow, as he unsheathed his dagger in a menacing 
way. 

' Oh, strike, sir, an thou wilt,' said Fran9ois with a despair- 
ing sigh. ' Thou hast inflicted pain and torture enough on 
me and those I love, and thou hast only to crown thy cruelty 
now by slaying me. Perhaps it were better so, for it is a hard 
world, and I find life full of cares.' 

' Poor idiot !' sneered Renaud, as he restored his dagger to 
its sheath. 'Thou hast o'er much sentiment in thee, and 
thou wilt be a fool all thy life.' 

' Better a fool than a knave,' retorted Francis. 

'A truce to this,' said Renaud impatiently. 'I brought 
thee here for a purpose — that purpose must be fulfilled.' 

' Thou hast not yet told me what it is.' 

'I would wed with thy foster-mother,' pursued Renaud. 
' But she is obstinate and opposes me. Thou hast influence 
over her, and canst persuade her to accede to my wishes. 
Thou promised to do this once before, but failed me. Now 
things are different. An you play no trick with me this time, 
thou shalt see Adrienne and talk to her, and on thy success 
or failure thy life depends.' 

Although Francois felt disposed to give vent to his disgust 
by a free expression of thought, he wisely refrained, recog- 
nising that he was truly in the power of this man, against 
whom it would be useless to strive at present. So he 
said : 

' I would learn the views of my foster-mother first Wilt 
thou take me to her.^' 

Renaud hesitated for a moment, then said : 

' Yes ; follow me.' 

He led the way to Adrienne's chamber. The meeting 
between her and Francois was of a very affectionate nature, 
and she embraced him warmly. In her joy she forgot for the 






HOW FRANCOIS BEARDED THE EARL 297 

moment that she was in the hands of her enemy, and she 
said incautiously, addressing Renaud : 

' I thank thee for this moment, and I would fain believe 
thou art not the monster I erstwhile thought thee to be. 
l*his poor boy has already suffered much. And though he 
may have given thee some annoyance, he is thy son, and thou 
must advance his interests.' 

' I will give him |x>wer and wealth, an he obejrs me ; and 
for thy sake,' said Renaud. 

Francis disengaged himself from Adrienne's clasp, and 
looking into her pensive eyes, said : 

' Sweet mother o' mine, thou must make no sacrifices for 
me.' 

' Have a care !' muttered Renaud threateningly. 

'Tell me, dear one,' asked Francis, without heeding Renaud^ 
and taking Adrienne's hand, ' is it thy desire to become the 

wife of this ' He |>aused and hesitated, as if not quite 

sure of the term he should use. Then he said boldly and 
contemptuously, 'of this man,' 

Renaud went white with anger. Usually cool and collected 
in tr}'ing circumstances, he lost control over himself when 
contending with Francois. He had come to regard the youth 
with so much dislike and contempt that his passion got the 
better of him when the lad thwarted him. He had overcome 
so many obstacles, had raised himself so high, and had not 
hesitated to pit himself against such a master of crafl and 
deceit as the Karl of Rothwell, that he could not brook a 
check from S4) insignificant a personage as Francis. 

' Put a curb on thy tongue, l)oy,' he said sternly, ' for thou 
l>reatlu*st not free air at present. It were better for thyself 
that thou shouldst remember who I am.' 

( atching up this unguanled remark, Francois made a point 
of it, and said with withering irony : 

' I remember but tcK) well, sir, who thou art' Then turn- 
ing to Adrienne : ' Thou hast not answeretl my (piestion. I 
will re|>eat it Is it thy wish that thou shouldst In^come the 
wife of this most noble gentleman, the Karl of Hawks- 
vale r 

I'he latter sarcasm stung Renaud, and he mentally rescilved 
that Franvois should suffer for it Adrienne was much dis- 
tressed, for she remembered the dark threat of the previous 
night, and Reiuiud's sinister face tokl her now she had nothing 



298 BASILE THE JESTER 

■ 

to hope for if she went contrary to his wishes. Francois 
noticed her hesitancy and distress, and guessing the cause, he 
drew away from her for a few paces, and speaking with strong 
emphasis and feeling, he exclaimed : 

' Adrienne, my mother, I charge thee in the name of the 
Virgin Mary, whom we both adore, to answer me as thy heart 
would speak. Wilt thou be wife to this man by thine own 
free will and wish ?' 

She seemed almost overcome, and clasping her hands as if 
in mute appeal, she bowed her head, and faltered : 

' My heart says " No." ' 

' Then rather than that thou shouldst be polluted by his 
touch, we will die together,' said Fran9ois, with startling 
determination. 

Renaud was altogether taken by surprise by this unexpected 
boldness, and with fierce passion he drew his dagger, and 
sprang towards Francois, but with the quickness of thought 
Adrienne threw herself between them, and in agonizing 
accents, cried out : 

' No, no ! For God's good love, shed not the boy's blood ! 
He is thy son.' 

Renaud slunk back before that passionate invocation, and 
sullenly sheathed his weapon again. Francois, in no way 
daunted, but on the contrar}* seeming to become more bold 
and defiant, said : 

' Adrienne, the moment has come when thou must be un- 
deceived, and the truth shall be revealed. This man who 
would break thy heart, and make me his catspaw, is a miser- 
able im])ostor, and cannot claim an atom of kinship with me. 
1 am not his son.' 

Adrienne looked in amazement from one to the other. 
Francois was a picture of stem defiance, while Renaud, by the 
working of his mouth and his fiercely flashing eyes, showetl 
that he was foiled, but not beaten. He recovered his self- 
possession in a few moments, and then with intense bitterness 
asked : 

' And since thou canst assert with such confidence that I am 
not thy father, perhaps thou wilt enlighten Adrienne as to 
whose spawn thou art V 

As he uttered these words he watched narrowly the face of 
Francois, and he saw how, as he intended it should, the sting 
went deeply into the boy's soul. He saw the face pale to 



HOW FftAN(;^OIS BEARDED THE EARL 299 

deathly white, and then dye to the hue of crimson, as the burn- 
ing blush of shame and indignation spread itself out to the 
very roots of the curly hair. And as he noted the efTect of 
his cowardly question he smiled coldly and said : 

'Thou dost not answer. Thy tongue, erst so free, seems 
paralysed now. Wherefore is it so ?' 

Adrienne spoke. She seemed faint and ill, and her voice 
was low : 

' Francois, is it true what thou hast said ?' 

With a look of tortured pride on his handsome features, 
Francis replied : 

' Ay, good mother, as God will judge us. 1 bear no drop of 
that man's blood in my veins !' 

'Then, who is thy father?' demanded Renaud, with fiery 
vehemence. 

' I know not,' returned the boy, with equal passion. ' But 
an he were a beggar, he were a better man than thee !' 

' Poor fool !' snarled Renaud spitefully. ' Thou shouldst at 
least Icani not to make statements and charges l)efore thou hast 
pnwf of thy assertions. Thou camest to the Queen's Majesty 
to accuse me, and thou brought thyself into disgrace for thy 
pains. Now thou deniest that thou art my offspring, and yet 
thou hast no knowledge of those who gave thee birth !' 

Fran9ois seemed overwhelmed and abashed, for what answer 
could he make ? He had covered his eves with his hand, and 
ap|)eared to he suffering keenly. Adrienne was also much dis- 
tressed, and ap|>ealing to Renaud, she said in piteous accents : 

' Monsieur, I charge thee tell me truly : Is that youth thy 
ton or no ?' 

He curled his lip scornfully as he replied : 

' Mademoiselle Adrienne, thou art not my confessor, and I'll 
answer no questions of thine : at least, I'll not answer that one 
now. For Francis thou bearest a mother's love, though he 
be not thy kin.' 

'Ay, as heaven witnesseth, I love him with a mother's 
de\otion !' 

'Then wilt thou save his life.^' 

' At the sacrifice of my own,* she exclaimed, with gathering 
energy. 

' I ask no such sacrifice,' Renaud pursued. ' I ask thee only 
to iM'come my wife.* 

Francois suddenly roused himself from the &tuiM>r tliat 



300 BASILE THE JESTER 

seemed to have come over him, and seizing Adrienne in his 
arms he strained her to him, and exclaimed with despairing 
energy : 

' Better far, dear mother, that thou shouldst die than let thy 
heart be shattered by this knave. Let us dare him to do his 
worst, and we will put our trust in Heaven.* 

Renaud's patience was exhausted. With a sudden and 
adroit movement he seized Fran9ois by the arm, and swinging 
him forcibly round, hurled him to the side of the room, so that 
he staggered against the wall. Then standing between him 
and Adrienne, he cried to the latter : 

' Thou canst save that fool, and set him free. Wilt thou do it.^' 

' How }* she asked. 

' By consenting to be my wife.' 

' Never !* she said with determination, ' unless it is his wish !* 

' Thou hast heard thy mother s answer, boy,* cried Renaud ; 
' save thyself and her !' 

Fran9ois had recovered himself, and had glanced nervously 
round the room as if in search of something he might use as a 
weapon ; but nothing presented itself And now, with fierj' 
passion working in his veins, he ground his teeth, and hissed out : 

' Rather would I strangle the life out of thy foul body !' 

Then he made a sudden spring forward and seized Renaud 
by the throat ; but Renaud seemed to have been expecting 
something of the sort, and was on his guanl, and being a 
powerful man, he hurled the youth from him again, and so 
violently that he staggered and fell on the floor. Renaud 
once more drew his dagger and aimed a blow at the prostrate 
youth, but with a wild scream of horror Adrienne threw her- 
self on him and arrested the blow. 

' Pity, pity, for my sake !* she moaned. 

' Thou hast saved him for the present,* Renaud snarled. Then 
he put a small silver whistle to his lips and blew it, and in a 
few moments Helen Macdonald entered. ' See to the lady,' 
was Renaud's stem command. Without uttering a word Helen 
lifted the now almost fainting Adrienne in her powerful arms 
and bore her to a couch. Renaud walked to the door then, 
and blew two shrill blasts on his whistle, and at once two of 
his guards hurried up. ' That youth has made an attack up>on 
my life,* he said. ' Convey him hence to the tower guard- 
room, and bind him hand and foot. And as you value your 
lives keep him welL' 



A STORY OP WRONG AND SHAMR «01 

The men obeyed their tynint's bidding, and seized Francois 
rouj^hly. He had already risen to his feet, and was pantin^^ 
and palHd, but his pride and his spirit were not broken, and 
as the men took him fnim the room he said with suppressed 
energy, ' Sweet mother, be true to thyself and me and defy 
this knave !' 



CHAITRR LXI. 

A 8TORY OF WRONG AND 811/ 



It would not be easy to describe Renaud's state of mind as he 
saw that his cunningly devised plans for the advancement of 
his interest were likely to be frustrated by tlie sheer and 
dogged obstinacy of Fran^'ois. His hopes that he would he 
able to coerce Adrienne into becoming his wife, if he got 
Fran^>is into liis power, had received a rude shock ; and now 
he began to doubt whether after all he would succeed in 
carr}'ing out his pur|M)se. In fact, when he reflected on his 
)>osition he saw good cause to feel some uneasiness, for public 
anger had been making itself manifest in no uncertain manner 
against the conspirators who had brought about the King's 
death, and he had been indicated in the anonymous placanls 
as one of the aiders and aliettors of the crime. Therefore he 
might at any moment find himself a prisoner, and his newly- 
ac(|uired estates forfeitetl. 

Naturally this thought made him extremely anxious to 
secure himself against any contingency that might arise, and 
in the present state of atlairs he felt that his truest security 
lay in placing distanc*e between himself and strife-toni Sc*ot- 
land. But if he retired now to his native countr}- he wcmld 
have to go with ver}' limite<l means, for he could not n*alize 
his estate. Of course, if he could succeed in inducing Adrienne 
to become his wife, he would at cmce obtain control of her 
large fortune, and what was more, in his own country too, for 
Adrienne's pro|)erty was mostly situated in Paris. 

It will thus be seen that his inducements to (lersevere in the 
desjjerate venture he had startetl on were verj* great ; but his 
tactics so far had proved a failure. He had got Inith Adrienne 
and Fraiivois under his nmf as captives, lie was the feudal 
lord of the estate, and in that ca|)acity held the |>ower of life 
and death in his hand. If he ordered his niynnidons to hang 



302 BASILE THE JESTER 

Francois they would in all probability obey his conimands, bat 
then that would not advance his cause one iota, if Adrienne 
remained obstinate. To gain her fortune he must be legally 
united to her, and he could not be legally united to her with- 
out her consent. 

For two or three days she remained in a prostrate condition, 
consequent on the shock and fright she had received. And 
he was sullen and fretful as he saw with alarm that the 
violence he had resorted to was calculated to thwart his own 
cause by bringing about Adrienne's death. He therefore 
bestowed unusual attention and care upon her ; and trie<l to 
impress her with the belief that he was deeply concerned for 
her welfare. It was not until the third day that she showed 
unmistakable signs of rallying from the prostration, and then 
her first anxiety was for Fran9ois. 

Renaud had only visited her two or three times since that 
terrible night, and then merely to ascertain her symptoms and 
prescribe for her ; but Helen Macdonald had been her constant 
attendant. Helen had received instructions from her master 
to show every care and attention to the invalid, and to treat 
her with kindness. This woman had everything to gain if the 
marriage was brought about, as Renaud had promised her a 
considerable sum of money, and so it was by no means to her 
interest to treat the unfortunate prisoner with harshness. 
Personally she could have no ill feeling against Adrienne, for 
she knew very little of her, their respective positions at the 
Court keeping them wide apart, and therefore in lending her- 
self to the cowardly plot of the abduction she was actuated 
solely by mercenary greed. She was, however, a woman of 
violent temper, and liable to take strong and unreasonable 
prejudices which were calculated to make her a dangerous and 
treacherous enemy. 

As already stated, Adrienne's great anxiety was for Fran9ois, 
and she questioned Helen about him. But the woman was 
unable to give her any information, for she really knew nothing, 
though it gave her the opportunity to plead her employer's 
cause. 

* Wherefore art thou so stubborn, sweet lady ?' she began. 
' My Lord of Hawksvale is a worthy and honourable gentle- 
man, and thou wouldst do well to become his wife !' 

' Hast thou much interest in this business ?* Adrienne asked 
languidly, and yet with point in her question. 



A STORY OF WRONG AND SHAME SOS 

Helen was not quite pre|)arecl for such a question, but she 
made the best o{ it and answered : 

' I have my lord's interest at hearty for he is a kindly 
gentleman !' 

' Thy measure of his kindness is, no doubt, regulated by the 
extent of his liberality towards thee/ Adrienne remarked dryly. 

* In faith, madame,' exclaimed Helen somewhat tartly, ' we 
all have our hearts set on this world's gear. Some have plenty 
and some have none at all, and those who lack it think well of 
those who liestow even small favours u))on them.' 

' Thy doctrine is the doctrine of selfishness, and. Heaven be 
praised ! it is not common to everyone,' said Adrienne. 'But we 
will not discuss that now. It seems clear that thou art willing 
to lend thyself to any work by which thou mayest gain money, 
which, af\er all, is a sorry thing to put one's whole faith in.' 

' Rich folk may preach that, but we who are poor haven't 
much inducement to put faith in aught else,' gniwled Helen. 
' It is easy to be honest when one wants for nothing, but a 
hungry belly respects not another man's meal.' 

' Well, well,' said Adrienne testily, and having no desire to 
enter into an argument with the woman, ' we will not prolong 
the subject. For any attention thou mayest be inclined to 
show to me and to my foster-son thou shalt be well rewanled. 
And now to thy master, and bid him come to me, for I would 
have s|)eech with him ; and after that thou canst return, and I 
will tell thee something.' 

Helen seemed a little surprise<l, and the look of cupidity in 
her small eyes did not esca|)e Adrienne, who believed that she 
might turn the woman to account. 

In acconlance with the onler, Helen retired, and in less 
than a quarter of an hour Renau<l came. He was a little 
excited and flushed, for the message raisi*d a hope in his breast 
that his captive had relented, and was alx>ut to announce her 
ac*({uiescence to his desires ; but his ho|K*s fell again as he 
IcMiked at her face, which seemed to give him no encourage- 
ment. He |)aid her some little compliment, which, however, 
she did not notice, but said frigidly : 

' My Lord of Hawksvale, Fran^*ois made a statement the 
other night, which, if true, would indicate that thou hast been 
guilty of a most cowanlly act of deception. 1 do not doubt 
Francois, but I wish ccmfinnation from thee, and I charge thee 
solemnly to tell me if Fran^^ois is thy son.' 



S04 BASILE THE JESTER 

Renaud was thrown into a little confusion by the un- 
expected question, but he quickly recognised that to attempt 
to keep up the deception any longer would be useless, and so 
he answered boldly, and said : 

' Francois s))oke truly. He is not my son !' 

' Then do I rejoice greatly/ Adrienne remarked. 

' Whence comes thy joy ^ demanded Renaud sharply. 

' At the thought that Fran9ois, noble and true as he is, is 
not the offspring of so unworthy a man !' 

' Thy words are cutting, madame, and even bold for one 
who is my prisoner !' cried Renaud warmly. 

' Monsieur Renaud — or, an thou preferest, my Lord of 
Hawksvale, thou earnest to the Court of the Queen's Majesty 
under false pretences. Thou hast climbed to thy position by 
fraud and deceit. Thou hast used that unfortunate youth as 
a ladder wherewith to rise, and now that thou hast risen thou 
wouldst destroy the ladder. Canst thou say thou art a man 
of honour, with such charges as these against thee .^ 

' I am not here to discuss points of honour with thee,' he 
answered disdainfully. ' The past is gone, and cannot be re> 
called. The future is before us, and thou must become my wife.' 

'Thou art a strange wooer, my lord,' Adrienne returned 
scornfully. ' A woman's heart is won not by force and menaces, 
for it cannot love the hand that would crush it, nor the tongue 
that would sting it But since thou art not the boy Francois's 
father, thou must know something of his parents. Who were 
they r 

' His mother was killed, as thou wilt remember, on the day 
of the Queen's marriage to the Dauphin,' Renaud replied after 
some hesitation, and wondering what the questions were lead- 
ing up to. 

' Ay, I remember but too well.* Then fixing her eyes on 
Renaud's face, she said, ' But his father — hast thou knowledge 
of him .?' 

A strange smile came into Renaud's face as this question 
was put. It was a smile that clearly and unmistakably 
indicated a sense of malicious joy — the joy that one experiences 
when he knows that he can strike his enemy a deadly blow. 
Renaud felt perhaps that the moment and the circum- 
stances were fitting for a revelation, and that the deceptive 
character he had so long kept up was now no longer possible. 
Or perhaps what weighed with him more than aught else w^ 



A STORY OF WROKG AND SHAME «05 

the craving desire to do his rival an irreparable injury, so he 
answered and said : 

' Yes. I know the boy's father 1* 

' Does he still live ?* 

' To his shame he does !' 

' And his name ?* 

' h liaxUe ! erstwhile Jester to the Queen's Majesty, and 
the man who would have dishonoured thee !' 

If Uenaud ex|)ected Adrienne to be startled at this revela- 
tion, he must have been strangely disap|)ointed, and equally 
puzzled, for she betrayed no sign that she was in any way 
surprisetl, but quietly remarked : 

' I sus|>eoted it,' 

' Didst thou really ?' said Renaud ironically, and evidently 
annoyed at her apfMrent want of interest ' And wherefore 
didst thou sus))ect it ?' 

' From many reasons,' she answered ; ' but |)erha|)s chiefly 
because Basile re|)eatedly warned me against thee, and said 
thou wert an im|)ostor !' 

The expression of intense irritation and anger that displayed 
itself in Ucnaud's face told how those words cut him. And 
forgetting for once the cauticm which was his habit, and entirely 
led away by this feeling of annoyance, and bitter hatred for 
his rival, he exclaimed with half-smothered fierceness : 

' If 1 am an inqxistor, what name wouldst thou apply to him? 
He is thy lover. Ah ! thy conscience pricks, eh? But listen 
to what manner of man he is to whom thou wouldst sell thine 
Ininour, and on whom thou wouldst bestow thy gold.' 

' I will not hear thy scandal,' cried Adrienne, feeling some 
alarm at his fjassionate manner. * It was not for that I sent 
for thee/ 

' But thou shalt hear me !' he exclaimed, forgetting him- 
self in his burning desire to sully and ruin his rival. ' This 
fiMil, this traiton»us dog whom thou hankerest after, is a l)e- 
t raver and a deeply-<lyed knave. Years ago, in the |mlace 
of Francis II. of France, was a pretty serving wench, who fell 
into the toils of this smcKith-tonguecl lover of thine.' 

' Insult me no further!' Adrienne cried, as she buried her 
face in her hands. 

• Thou shall hear the story now !' he hissed with joyful feel- 
ings as he saw how deeply he was cutting into the heart of 
his victim. 'This pretty wench, whose name was Berthe 

^0 



306 BASILE THE JESTER 

Corvin, bore thy lover a child, and he was named Francis. 
The story is not a pretty one as it is, but the sequel will top 
it. Basile, thy lover, became alarmed at Berthe's impor- 
tunities to him to marry her. He had previously sent her to 
her uncle at Rouen, and now he arranged to pay the uncle a 
considerable sum of money to poison Berthe and her child. 
The uncle took the money, but didn't do the deed, though he 
led his nephew, thy lover, to believe he had. .Instead, he sent 
the mother and child to Bordeaux, to her mother, who kept a 
tavern, and told her that Basile would join her there and 
marry her. But need I tell thee that he did not, and Berthe 
soon consoled her grief by getting another lover. In a little 
while he deserted her, her mother died, and she was left 
destitute. Then she ma<le her way on foot with her child to 
Paris, for she had heanl that the young Queen of Scots was 
to marry the Dauphin ; she put her sad story into a letter, 
first resolving to present that letter to the Queen as she 
returned from her wedding, hoping that the Queen would 
thereby be moved, and command Basile to make the suppli- 
cant an honourable wife.' 

He paused to see the effect the story had had upon her. 
She was still covering her face with her hands, and was much 
agitated ; but looking at him with misty eyes as he paused, 
she asked, in a voice hoarse with emotion : 
' How earnest thou to know all this }* 
He smiled with self-satisfaction as he answered : 
'Fate played into my hands. Poor Berthe, as thou art 
aware, was crushed and trampled on by the restive horses at 
the very moment that she had all but reached the Queen's 
coach. Bleeding and mangled, she was conveyed to the 
lodgings of some strangers. A surgeon was called for. I was 
near and volunteered my services. The woman died ; but 
before she died, she gave me the letter and asked me to 
deliver it to the young Queen.' 

' And you broke thy promise ?' said Adrienne quickly. 
' I did. 1 was very poor. Fortune had mocked me. But, 
as Heaven will judge us, I was honest up to then — ay, and 
was willing to sacrifice myself for others' sake. But a tempta- 
tion to read that letter came upon me that I was powerless to 
resist. 1 wanted to learn who the woman was, and what her 
object was in addressing the Queen. I yielded to the tempta- 
tion. I learnt the story as I have given it to thee, and then 



A STORY OF WRONG AND SHAME 307 

I saw how I might make it a stepping-stone to fortune. The 
child had Ih'cu taken to the palace. That I knew, and my 
fir^t impulse was to see Hasile, and demand gold from him on 
the threat of ex|)osure. But reflection showed me a better 
way to riches. Ambition prompted me, and I resolved to say 
I was the child's father ; for 1 felt sure the Queen would do 
something for me — and who could contradict me .^ Not the 
dead woman, and the Jester dare not, for had I not written 
evidence that he had sought to murder the woman whom he 
had dishonoured } Thou knowest how well I have succeefled. 
I have climl)ed from |>overty and neglect to high estate, and 
now the crowning act must be the wedding with thee.' 

'It is a pitiable story,' moaned Adrienne in sore distress. 
' But what if 1 refuse to bec*ome thy wife ?' 

' Tlien Kranvois dies,' Kenaud returned with savage deter- 
mination. ' If thou hast not consented in twenty-four hours, 
I will hang him. My (mtience is exhausted.' 

Adrienne appeared to l)e over]K>wered for several moments 
with some stifling emotion, but she recovered herself; and 
knowing how useless it was to still further irritate this man 
by telling him how she loathed him, she said : 

'(live me till to-morrow, I will then frame my answer.' 

' So be it,' he said. ' On that answer Francois's life 
de|>ends.' 

He lefl the room, and when she was alone Adrienne was 
unable to control her bursting heart any longer, but gave 
way to hysterical sobbing. 



CHAI»TER LXn, 
'de silent as death, and follow me like my shadow.' 

In about an hour Helen Macdonald returned Adrienne had 
recovered her coni|H>sure then — at any rate, so far that she 
gave no outwartl signs of the storm she had |Mi.ssed through, 
save in the deathly |mle face and the bl(HMlshot eyes. 

' Helen,' she said mi a sad voice — ' Helen, thou art a woman, 
and ciinst surely feel for one of thy sex whose heart is linikeu 
and whose ho|)es are destroyed. Wilt thou render me a 
service ?* 

' Ay, an I can do it without going against my Lord of Hawks- 
T de, whose money I value.' 



308 BASILE THE JESTER 

' It is a question of money with thee/ said Adrienne in 
distrust. 

' Truly so/ answered the woman, with a toss of her head. 
' Are we not all struggling after riches ?' 

' Some of us are — not all/ returned Adrienne, with a melan- 
choly sigh. ' But listen. Thou seest this necklet ? It is set 
with diamonds, and is worth a larger sum than thou art likely 
to receive from thy master for many a day. The gold medal> 
lion attached to it falls not far short of it in value. Both 
these gewgaws shall be thine, an thou wilt carry a letter for 
me to Berwick.' 

Helen's greedy and avaricious eyes opened to their fullest 
extent, and she said quickly : 

' Give them to me, and I will do thy message.' 

' I shall give them to thee on completion of the service/ 
answered Adrienne flatly. ' When thou hast brought me a 
sign that thou hast delivered my letter into the hands of 
Basile at Berwick, then these trinkets shall be thine, and not 
till then/ 

After some hesitation Helen replied : 

' When dost thou want thy message taken Y 

' Immediately, an it is possible.' 

'That may be difficult, but I will undertake to send it for 
thee.' 

' Good ! Return in an hour then, and my letter shall be 
ready.* 

When Adrienne was once more alone she indited the follow- 
ing epistle to Basile : 

' My love to thee, and greetings and wishes for thy welfare. 
Thou must release me from my pledges, for all is at an end 
between us. Sore trouble afflicts us, but for thee the future 
may hold hapjiiness, and will bring thee forgiveness for thy 
error ; for me there is only sorrow and darkness. But thou 
must not think of me. I sacrifice myself to save My satu 1 
know thy story, and j)ity thee. I charge thee, an thou hast 
respect for me, seek me not. It were better that I were for- 
gotten. Teach thy son duty, honour, and uprightness, and 
make him a loyal and staunch servant to the Queen's majesty, 
whom the saints protect. Farewell. This comes from one 
who hath pleasing memories of thee — Adrienne. S^nd me a 
sign that thou hast received tlu3<' 



•BE SILENT AS DEATH* 309 

She tied this letter with red ribbon and sealed it with her 
seal ; and when Helen returned she delivered it into her 
hands. 

For the rest of the day Adrienne remained alone. Renaud 
came not near her, much to her relief. But nevertheless her 
hours of solitude were very bitter, and she had to endure a 
conflict with herself. She felt that she loathed and despised 
Rcnau<l, but she would liecome his wife if it would save Fran- 
cois. She was moved by a holy unselfishness, and for the 
youth's sake she would crush her own heart, for she loved 
him with all the tenderness and devoted love of a true 
mother. 

While Adrienne was revolving these things in her tortured 
mind, how fared it with the object of her solicitations ? 

It will be remembered that after that violent scene in 
Adrienne's chamber, when Renaud had come within an ace 
of taking Francois's life, the unfortunate youth was dragged 
away and imprisoned once more in the room he had first 
occupied ; and, following out the letter of their command, 
the soldiers bound him with conls, so that he was powerless 
to move, and in this cruel ])osition they left him.* 

For three or four hours he remained undisturbed. The 
conls cut into his flesh and tortured him ; but his mental 
distress was greater than his physical sufferings, for all seemed 
lost His last ho|)es had vanished, and the woman for whom 
he bore a son's affection must be sacrificed, and he could not 
stir a finger to save her. How he cursed his folly now — that 
precipitate folly that had led him into this serious position! 
He knew that Renaud hated him, and he knew that he could 
ex|)ect no mercy from him, unless he used his |>ersuasive 
powers with his foster-mother, and urged her to become the 
wife of Renaud. But he could take no other view of that 
course than that it was base and cowanlly ; and baseness he 

* It will ni»t be inoppi>rtiin« to stAte hera th*i cwitles uoiilar to the one 
here dcucribed were in them; feudal dayH governed with a sort of military 
denpotiiiiD. The governor or owner, an the cane might be, had the |M>wer 
of life and death in hiii handii, and he waa not hIow to exercise thiH {Kiwvr ; 
and trivial offences were often severely punished, the offender not infre- 
f|uently being hanged. Thb s(»rt of stem discipline was in full force in 
Scotland, especially in the border strongholds, during Mary's reign, for the 
law of the country wss too lax and too inefficient to deal with the powerful 
noMes, who simply made laws of their own for ruling their retainers, and 
l^uerally excrciaed th«te laws with an iroa ha«d. 



310 BASILE THE JESTER 

scorned, and cowardice was no part of his nature, young as he 
was. 

' I will die/ he thought to himself — ' die twenty times over 
rather than urge my foster-mother to ally herself to so con- 
temptible a knave.' 

Towards the close of the day he was visited by Renaud, 
who was accompanied by the soldier who had already shown 
sympathy for Francis. 

' Hast thou come to thy senses, boy ?' demanded Renaud 
imperiously. 

' If to come to my senses is to hate thee more bitterly than 
ever, then have 1 come to my senses in very truth,' answered 
Francois, with scorn and defiance in his look and tone. 

' Thy saucy tongue shall be nipped, an it learns not more 
respect for thy betters,' said Renaud. 

' Thou mayest tear it out, an that would give thee pleasure,' 
answered Francois boldly, 'for rest assured it will never speak 
well of thee.' 

Renaud seemed somewhat at a loss how to deal with this 
refractory prisoner. He had come to him hoping to find him 
in a more tractable mood ; but instead of that, although cruelly 
bound and obviously suffering physical pain, he appeared more 
obstinate and more defiant. 

' If thou art not blind to reason,' he said — ' if thou art not 
indifferent to her who has been a mother to thee, thou wilt 
change thy temper. Reftiember, thou hast made an attempt 
upon my life^ but 1 will forgive thee for that, an thou wilt do 
my wishes.* 

' I want neither thy pity nor thy forgiveness,' returned 
Fran9ois loflily. 

Renaud saw clearly that in his present frame of mind he could 
do no good with him ; so, turning to the attendant, he said : 

' Kenneth, loosen these cords.' 

Then, as the man carried out this order, not without some 
difficulty — for the cords had been cruelly knotted — Renaud 
continued : 

' Thou shalt have the freedom of thy limbs,' he said, ' and 
when thou hast recognised my power and obeyed my bidding, 
thou shalt be free to leave here at any moment But thy 
senses seem to have left thee now. I will try if starvation 
will bring thee back to reason. See to it, Kenneth, for two 
days thy charge will fast absolutely. Dost understand ?^ 



•BE SILENT AS DEATH* 311 

• 

' Ay, master/ Kenneth answered somewhat gruffly. 

' On the third day thou mayest give him a stoup of water 
and a small measure of dried meal. If he has not learnt 
better manners by that time, we will try what a week's fasting 
will do. Long fasting tameth the tiger ; mayhap^ it will also 
tame this very fiery youth.' 

Fran9ois made no reply. A sense of blank despair seemed 
to take from him the power of speech. This did not escape 
the quick eyes of Renaud, who smiled almost imperceptibly 
as he thought that already he had made an impression ; and 
when he had broken the proud spirit of this youth with 
hunger, he would be able to completely mould him to his will. 

He lefl the cell with Kenneth ; and when Francis heard 
the bolts of the door shoot into their sockets, he felt as if the 
iron was going into his heart With a groan of soul-wrung 
agony he threw himself on the narrow couch, and wished that 
he had some means of taking his life. 

He must have slept, and slept a long time, and he was 
awakened at last by a grating noise as of a large key in a lock, 
and starting up, he saw a dim light ap|)ear near the doorway 
and then a voice asked in low accents : 

' Art thou awake, son ?' 

Francois sprang up, and feeling sure that the voice was a 
friendly one, he answered : 

' Av, I am awake. What wouldst thou with me ^' 

'Hist !' said the voice. '1 am Kenneth. I have brough 
thee ftKtd.' 

Franvois jum|)ed forward, and threw his arms round the 
man's neck, exclaiming : 

' Thou art a friend. Heaven hath surely sent thee. Thou 
wilt befriend me and sot me free, wilt thou not ?' 

' Here is wine and a venison pasty for thee ; despatch it 
quickly. An thou were a wihl wolf, my Ix>rd of Hawksvale 
could not treat thee worse. But may Satan blacken me if I 
starve thee even at my lonl's bidding !' 

The man put down his lantern on the floor, and the pasty 
and the wine he placed on the table, inviting Francois to 
fall to at once ; and without more ado, the prisoner drank a 
deep draught of the wine and then tackled the pasty, for he 
had been many hours without food and was faint with hunger. 

' I am interested in thee,' said Kenneth after a long pause, 
wiping a tear from his weather-beaten cheek, ' for thou re- 



512 BASILE THE JESTER 

mindest me of my own son. Thou hast the same hair and 
the same eyes, and he was just such another handsome and 
shapely youth as thyself.' The rough soldier here sobbed, 
and then added with a great sigh : ' He is in heaven now — 
the saints love him ! He and his mother were carried off by 
the plague years ago.' 

' For thy son's sake, then, help me, for I am a most un- 
fortunate youth,' cried Francois, quickly taking advantage of 
this reminiscence to reach Kenneth's heart. 'And for thy 
dead wife's sake, help the sweet lady whom thy master also 
holds captive ; he seeks to force her to wed him, though she 
loathes him. But she hath a fortune, and it is the fortune he 
craves.' 

' I may help thee, but I see not how I can help her,' said 
Kenneth thoughtfully. 

' Yes ; thou mayest help her through me,' cried Francois. 
' Place me outside of this cursed place, and I will try and do 
the rest' 

' It is not so easy as thou wouldst imagine ; but my heart is 
moved for thee, and thy likeness to my dead son stirs me to 
make a des])erate venture in thy behalf. But an I can set 
thee free, I must go too, or my life would be forfeited.' 

' Go, go !' said Francois eagerly, ' and I swear thou shalt 
want for nothing. My foster-mother is rich, and she will well 
provide for thee.' 

' But thy foster-mother will remain here as the captive of 
thy enemy,* Kenneth remarked significantly. 

' Ay, that I know must be the case for a time,' returned 
Fran9ois, much agitated, ' but dost thou not see that if 1 am 
free I may be able to liberate her ?* ^ 

' How so, boy ?' 

' I can gather to my cry a band of fearless young men who 
will attack my Lord of Hawks vale in his stronghold, and beat 
it down about his head.' 

' By the Mass, but thou makest my blood thrill, for I am a 
fighting man, and love a fray. May perdition seize me if I 
am not tempted to join thee in thy venture !' 

As Kenneth spoke his manner might not inaptly be described 
as that of a war-horse when scenting the battle from afar : it 
pricks its ears, its nostrils dilate, and its nerves quiver with 
suppressed excitement. Francois noticed the effect his words 
had produced, and taking advantage of it, he said quickly : 



•BE SILENT AS DEATH* S\3 

* Hesitate no longer, man, and thou shalt even lead the 
expedition against this castle.' 

• (live nie thy hand, boy,' cried Kenneth in a voice of emo- 
tion. 'Thine is sofl and white, a dainty hand like unto a 
maid's ; mine is n>ugh and strong, and hath dealt many a 
deadly blow in foray and fray. But it is an honest hand, and 
is at thy service. I'll give thee freedom or perish in the 
attempt, for thy cause seemeth to me a good one. I'll fight 
for thee, too, and since I know the castle, 1 can render thee 
service.' 

Francois was almost overpowered with joy, as hope once 
more like an effulgent star shone bright and clear over his 
{Nith. He embraced Kenneth, and munnured : 

'Thou art my good spirit. Desert me not* 

' The saints desert me an I do,* growled the soldier. ' But 
I must quit thee now. I will make some plan for thy esca|)e. 
It may not be for a night or two, but hold thyself in readiness. 
We must l>e cautious and watchful. Adieu.' 

He stealthily lefl the cell, closing the door afler him with 
great caution, and Francois stood for several minutes, his heart 
l>eating wildly and his face burning with the fire of revived 
energy. Then he threw himself once more on to the bed, 
and had soon sunk into a sound sleep. 

For two'long weary days afler this Francois saw nothing of 
Kenneth, and he alternated between ho|)e and fear, while the 
sus)>ense became almost unendurable. In acconlance with 
Renaud's onler, little or no food was supplied to him, but in 
his feverish anxiety he felt no jmng of hunger, though a burn- 
ing thirst consumed him. 

The night of the second day was growing old, and he had 
almost given himself up to des|)air again, when noiselessly his 
cell d(M)r was (»|>ened, and Kenneth ap|)eared. 

' Art th<»u awake .^' the man asked in awhis{>er. 

' Ay,' replied Fran^'ois, springing to his feet with alacrity. 

' Hush !' said the other. 'Take this/ and he thrust a. long 
and formidable dirk into his hand. ' Thou wilt know how to 
use it if occasion requires. Be silent as death, and follow me 
like my shadow.* 

Franvois adapte<l himself instantly to the situation, and 
h(»lding his breath until he heanl his heart thump, he silently 
followed his ctmduetor, and in a few moments was breathing 
the free air. No more fitting night could have been chosen 



314 BASILE THE JESTER 

It was as dark as Erebus, and a misty driule of rain was Ml^ 
ing. Never a sound broke the silence save the tramp of the 
armed watchman on the keep. Without speaking Kenneth 
took I^ran^ois's hand and led him stealthily across the court- 
yard, then through a narrow doorway in the wall, and so 
gained the outer parapet Here Kenneth unwound from his 
body a long thin, but strong, cord. One end of this he made 
fast to a stout stick he had previously hidden there, and then 
throwing the cord over one of the embrasures in the wall, 
and placing the stick crossways against the embrasure, he 
whispered to Francois to lower himself •down until he reached 
the glacis, fifteen feet below. This he did with great agility, 
and with scarcely less agility Kenneth followetL They then 
paused and listened, but they only heard the dismal lapping 
of the water in the moat and the clank of the iron-shod heels 
of the watchman as he paced his weary round. 

' We must swim across,' Kenneth whispered. ' Divest thy- 
self of thy clothing.' 

Francois quickly undressed, as did Kenneth also. Then hold- 
ing their clothes above their heads, they entered the water and 
swam across. They scrambled out on the other side, but the 
unavoidable noise they had made in swimming had not escaped 
the quick ears of the sentinel, and they had scarcely time to 
put on some of their garments when an alarm was given and 
the warder fired the cresset* It flared up with a great burst 
of flame, and by its light the warder discovered the fugitives 
and sent a bolt from his crossbow afler them ; but it fell wide 
of its mark, and as the alarmed retainers rushed to their arms, 
and the whole castle was aroused, Fran9ois and Kenneth sped 
away into the darkness of the night, and stopped not to breathe 
until the danger of recapture had passed. 

CHAPTER LXIIL 

*THV NAME IS BACON, AND THEY CALL THEK PlOb* 

We must go back a little in point of time and introduce the 
reader to the tavern of the Golden Cross, situated in the High 

• Cre-sets were generally used as signals of alirm. They were iron 
baskets, filled with most inflammable material, usually saturated with 
pitch and turpentine, and so capable of being instantly fired. They made 
a great flare, and threw a light for a considerable distanoft. 



•THY NAME IS BACON* 815 

Street of Edinburgh. This tavern had gained considerable 
popularity ; it was largely resorted to by a certain class of 
the citizens, and it had also l)econie notorious for its brawls, 
and the deaths that had resulted from those brawls. It was, 
in fact, a sort of gravitating centre for adventurers of all 
descriptions, and its company was usually as diverse in its 
opinions as it was motley in its garb. To this place we will 
take the reader towanis the close of a wet day, and when the 
citizens of the capital have been more than usually excited 
by various and alarming rumours, not the least important of 
them being that an attempt was to be made to seize the 
person of the Karl of Bothwell, then with the Queen at 
Borthwick Castle. The general feeling of hatred for Both- 
well was so greats and had been so stirred by the fanatics of 
the Protestant pulpits, that public opinion was in a state of 
ebullition ; and not only were threats and menaces general, 
but the most extraordinary rumours gained currency one hour, 
only to be contradicted the next 

The rain had driven an unusual number of people into the 
tavern of the (lolden Cross, and the big public-room was filled 
with an excited and noisy crowd. This room was a large 
oblong chamber, with three huge fireplaces in it. The walls 
were whitewashed, and the stone floor was strewn with 
rushes. The ceiling was a massive structui^ of crossed oak 
beams, blackened with age and smoke. And suspended to 
these beams were dozens of boars' heads, chines of dried ])ork, 
venison hams, and smoked legs of mutton. Arranged n>und 
the room were various tables and forms, and they were nearly 
all occupied. At one of these tables, however, one man sat 
by himself. He was a man in the prime of life and had Ik'ch 
handsome ; in fact, even now his face was striking, though it 
unmistakably \x)tc traces of recklessness and dissi|)ation. lie 
had a mass of brown curly hair, and a heavy moustache that 
covered his mouth. His eyes were deep set and keen as a 
hawk's, and his general expression was that of an e.isy-going, 
good-tempered, happy-go-lucky sort of fellow, who never 
troubled himself about the monrow, and whistled defiantly at 
care. It was difficult to tell from his dri*ss what his station 
might be, but nevertheless there mas simiething about him 
which seemed suggestive of the swash-buekler. A large 
sombrero hat, ornamented with a feather, was on the table 
beside him, together with a well-woni {lair of gauntlet gloves 



316 BASILE THE JESTER 

of leather. He wore a velvet jerkin that had seen much 
service ; it was fastened at the waist hy a hroad belt ; it was 
full at the shoulders and slashed with gray, and the skirt was 
cut in tabs. He had long untanned leather boots that came 
above the knee, the tops being lined with red and turned 
over. A faded purple velvet cloak was gracefully suspended 
from his shoulders, and his picturesque costume was com- 
pleted by a rapier in a velvet scabbard. He seemed to be a 
stranger, and on that account was eyed suspiciously by the 
rest of the company. But if he was conscious of this it did 
not seem to affect him, for he appeared to be perfectly uncon- 
cerned, and he sipped his wine from a horn flagon with 
delightful nonchalance. His indifference, however, was as- 
sumed, and his quick, deep-set eyes did not lose much that 
was going on, while his ears were strained to catch intelligible 
scraps of conversation from among the babel of sounds. 
Presently a man rose from one of the other tables where he 
had been seated with a number of companions, and crossed 
to the table where the stranger was enjoying his wine in 
solitude. The new-comer was Bastian, the page and creature 
of Renaud, now the Earl of Hawksvale. Bastian was slightly 
inebriated, and he had been urged by his companions to 
* pump the stranger,' with a view of finding out who he was 
and what his business was. 

' I give thee good-day, master,' said Bastian in a pompous 
sort of way, as he seated himself. ' Thou art a stranger in 
these parts.' 

' Thou art a stranger to me, and that being so it seemeth 
to me thou lackest manners,' returned the other pointedly. 

' By the Mass, but thou art waspish !' cried Bastian. 

' And by the Mass, thou art swinish,' retorted the stranger. 

' Nay, man, let us not quarrel,' cried Bastian. ' Come, give 
me thy hand, and we'll make acquaintance.' 

' Thou seemest unwashed, and therefore I should not like 
to touch thee,' the stranger answered, whereat there was a 
roar of laughter, for curiosity had been aroused, and there was 
a lull in the conversation in order that the dialogue between 
the two men might be listened to. Bastian was well known, 
and it was considered that he was more than a match for the 
stranger, and could hold his own even with sword or tongue. 
But there were plenty amongst the company who would not 
have been sorry to see Bastian worsted, for he was a bully and 




«THY NAME IS BACON' 817 

B ciunirelsome fellnw. and p;cnerally much ilLsliked. The sally 
that caused him to l>ec<>me a lHu^hing'St<>ck niiiKiyed him much, 
and flashing an nnnry louk at the other, he snid : 

' Thou wouhlHt do well to gimti tliy tongue, fair eir, lest it 
lead thee into danger.' 

' Oh, oh, oh !' nNire<l the stranger in a lienrty burst of 
laughter, ' hut thou art nmuning. Now, tell nir, wliat is thy 
trade ? Art thou a eut-throat ?' 

' Thou art a l>east !' snarled Bastinii savagely. 

' Nay, man ; thine own eyes, being mazed with liquor, see 
thyself. An it please thee, I am a most worthy gentleman, 
and an honest one, also of exei-eding great im]M>rtance.' 

' Thou art a braggart' 

'There thou art wrong again, sweet sir. I am the most 
n)o<lest gentleman thou ha.st ever known. Come, I'll prove it 
to thee. Hast money in thy piirM' }' 

' Ay, fool, more than thou hast ever seen, judging from thy 
hungry ItHiks.' 

'Thiiu art indeed to be envied, then. But as proving my 
mtKlesty Iwilldrinkwith thee. Whiit ho! landlonl. Hringusa 
flagini of thy best vintage. And see to it that it is thy best ; 
for this most worthy and honourable sir will jmy for it.' 

Another roar of laughter greetetl this, much to Itastian's 
di'icinnflture. He seemed a little puxzled what to <lo, whether 
to o|H'rdy quarrel with the stranger or pay for the liquor. He 
decided to do the latter, for he was a sw.-iggerer and a boaster. 
And so lie ordered the flagon of wine with a great deal of 
poiri|H>vity, and when it was bniiiglit lie tossed a <-«iin on to the 
table disdainfully, as though money was of no olijeet to him. 

' I'ermit me,' said the stranger, Liking the flngoii from 
IVistian, who was alMiiit to pour the wine out in a rough sort 
of way. ' I see thou art not used to gmwl wine,' he witleil with 
a mitst provoking smile, ' so, I pledge thee. .Mavst thou never 
lack a coin to jtay for a flagon of the best for ihy friend. Ah ! 
by St. Agnes, but that's a goiKl draught. Vour ta]ister is a 
worthy man, I trow.' Seeing tli.-it It;istian had nut yet tasttil 
his liquor, but was looking sullen and glum and was evidently 
enraged, he exclaimed, ' Come, man. drink. .\rt thou in love? 
An thou art, take my advice and cut thy throat, for no woman 
would return thy love. Thou art too ugly. Nay. friend, feel 
not for thy hanger, for tliou wouldst but waste thy titrerigth. 
I am iiivuhierable.' 



318 BASILE THE JESTER 

' Thou art the spawn of Satan !' growled Bastian, almost 
beside himself with rage. 

' Exactly so, good friend/ returned the affable stranger with 
a smile, ' therefore I can boast of ancient ancestry.' 

' Thou art a noisy windbag, and for a groat Td prick thee.' 

' To it, then/ cried the stranger pleasantly, as he took a 
groat from his pouch and laid it on the table. Then jumping 
up and drawing his rapier he struck an attitude of most per> 
feet grace and ease. ' Draw thy weapon,' he said, as Bastian 
hesitated, 'and if thou be not my ancestor the d^vil himself I'll 
spit thee like a woodcock/ 

The stranger, who showed no signs of losing his temper, 
but on the contrary was the very personification of good 
humour and self-possession, quickly won the good feeling of 
the majority of those present. The company had all risen to 
their feet and crowded round at the prospects of a brawl, and 
as Bastian showed no inclination to pit himself against this 
audacious stranger he was greeted vrith jeers and taunts, until, 
perfectly enraged, he sprang up, drew his sword, and made a 
furious lunge at his antagonist The stranger, however, never 
moved out of his steps, but with the most consummate skill 
he turned the blow aside, and by an upward twist wrenched 
the sword from Bastian's hand. Then picking it up, he pre- 
sented it to him with a graceful bow, while a great burst of 
cheering greeted the act. 

' I am very cunning in fence,' he said, smiling, ' and thou 
art but a t)To. Put thy skewer in its case lest thou shouldst 
do thyself an injury.' 

Maddened by the sarcasm and the provoking coolness of his 
antagonist, and by the jeers that greeted him from the 
com|Kiny, Bastian seized his sword savagely, and holding it at 
the thrust he roared : 

' Who art thou, knave } and what is thy name .^ 

The stranger, still smiling, bowed again, but kept his 
rapier at guard, while his keen eyes were never taken off the 
face of Bastian. 

' I am a barber,' he said, ' because I can bleed well, and my 
name is Strikehard. Now, I wager thee another flagon I 
can guess thy name. It's Bacon, and thou art called Pig for 
short' 

This sally was too much for Bastian, and he aimed a tre- 
mendous blow at the other's head. But with adroitness and 




•THY NAME IS BACON" 319 

rapidity the stranger frunnled himself, and the only residt of 
the blow was a .show<^r of s{)nrks from the niagiiiHcfiitly 
temiKTed htadc of his rH|ii(.-r. As inntters Kccnied to lie 
getting serious, and it was certain that blood would be shed 
unless the two men were [lartetl, the landlord of the taveni 
rushed between them, and jmshing BaKtinn away, and not 
wi.shing to oSi-ntl him, as he was a good customer, he turned 
to the other and said : 

' I'ut up thy sword, sirruh ! Thou simuldst be ashamed of 
thyself to assault this worthy gentlemnn.' 

' Niiy, an it [ilease thee, mine host, 1 have assaulted him 
not,' returned the stranger with a little laugh, ns he restort-<l 
his mpii-r tn its Hcnliltnrd. ' But he hath hot blood in bin), 
and it were In-ttcr to let Minic of it out.' 

'Cm to ; thou art a bunsler,' said the landlord. 

' Not M>, giNH) mine host. I am a soldier, and have seen 
MHne service, and I boast not by words, but tleeds. An thy 
friend will favour me with a game of tierce and carte, I'll 
WBrraut to prick him three times out of everj' four )M>intM.' 

' 'l*hou art insolent, sirmli,' crie«l the landlord ; ' an<l for 
aught we know thou niayest be a cut'thntat, since thou 
seemcst so well practised in arms. This worthy gentleman is 
Master Bastian, servant to Monsieur Itenaud, physician to the 
(Jueen's Majesty.' 

' The bjirl of Ilawksvale! the Earl of Hawksvale!' called out 
■evend of the com]tiinv in)nicaMy. 

'Hie Karl of Hawksvale, I should have said, but Monsieur 
Benauil that was,' rem-nrked the landlord. 

.'Vt the mention of Itenaud's name the face of the stranger 
underwent a change, and the pleasant, careless smile it bad 
woni gave |ilacc to a fniwn. But he rapidly recovereil his 
srlf-]>ossession, an<I iNtwing, he saiil : 

' .Slastcr Itastinn, I give thee greetings and crave thy ]uirdiin. 
I did not dream thou wert so worthy a genth-m.-in. Come, 
thy liand in friendshi]).' 

Although Btslinn was not sure whether the facetious 
stniiiger was still making fun of him or not, he yielde<t to the 
entreaties of the landlord and others, and tixik the prolTercd 
hand, not at nil M>rry that the affair ba<I ended peaceably ; for 
though a bully he was a cownrd, and really felt afraid of this 
redoubtable and mysterious |>erMtn. 

' I forgive thee,' be said |>atruni>i»gly ; 'but, by'r lady, thou 



S20 BASILE THE JESTER 

mayest thank mine host that I have not let daylight through 
thee, for thou hast a saucy tongue.' 

' I am truly thankful/ returned the stranger sarcastically 
and again bowing ; ' for, as I see, thou art a veritable fire-eater/ 
Then, turning to the company, he said banteringly : ' Gentle- 
men, you may resume your seats, for Monsieur Bastian and I 
will not cut each other s throats yet.* 

This caused another roar of laughter, and the stranger's 
audacity won him many admirers. The excitement, however, 
being over, the company returned to the business of drinking, 
and the stranger and Bastian sat down together at their table, 
and were soon clinking their cups as if they were now sw^om 
friends. 



CHAPTER LXIV. 
'for right and rescue.* 

The flagon of wine that Bastian had ordered was soon finished, 
and then tlie stranger ordered another, and he took care that 
Bastian's glass did not long remain empty. The result was, 
that as Bastian had already been drinking pretty freely, the 
additional liquor told upon him, and he gave unmistakable 
signs of becoming stupefied. 

' Come, another stoup,' said his com|)anion, as he once more 
filled the glasses. ' I swear thou art a good fellow.' 

' Thou hast an oily tongue,* hiccoughed Bastian ; ' but thou 
hast not told me who thou art, nor what thy name is.' 

' Panlon me, friend, I vow 1 am forgetful. Well, my 
name is Sigismond, but my friends call me the Duke of 
Fence.* 

* The devil !* exclaimed Biistian huskily. 

' No, gotxl friend, I said not that, but the Duke of Fence.' 

' A j)recious duke thou art,' Bastian said with a sneer. 

' Thou art right, sweet sir, for 1 am the only one of the line,' 
cried the stranger with a merry laugh, and slapping the back 
of Bastian so lustily as to almost take his breath away. 

'Goal's truth !* spluttered Bastian, 'though thy fist be a sledge 
hammer I would have thee know my back is not an an\il. 1 
vow by the X'irgin that thou hast almost deprived me of my 
breath. Restrain thyself, for I like not thy merriment' 

' Beshrew me, but thou art a merr}- dog thyself,' the stranger 



FOR RIGHT AND RESCUE* 821 

said mockingly. ' But let us be serious. I would crave thee 
to give me some information. I am a stranger here^ and seek 
for knowledge. Did I understand mine host to say thou art 
in the service of the Queen's Majesty ?' 

' No, thou didst not, unless thou art dull of comprehension. 
It is my master who is in the Queen's service, and I am my 
master s servant.' 

'Ah, truly so. Thy wit is brilliant, friend Bastian. And 
thy master's name is ' 

' Renaud,' said Bastian sulkily. 

' He is a very worthy gentleman, I doubt not,' said the 
stranger. ' Whence came he ? hast thou knowledge of 
that r 

' Ay,' was Bastian's monosyllabic answer ; but he seemed to 
be drowsy and half-stupefied, for the drink had taken hold 
of him. 

' What, ho, man !' cried the stranger cheerily ; ' rouse thyselfl 
What sayest thou to another flagon ? Come, I'll tip thee a 
stave. 

••'FUl high the flowing beaker. 

And pMt the bowl around ; 
We'll jocund be thia evening, 

And m*ke the welkin toimd. 
We'll fling our care* behind vm, 

And live a ha|>py hour ; 
We'll pledge each friend in bumpeni 

Though death upon ua low'r." * 

He sung these words in a soft, musical voice, arresting the 
attention of the company, who cried ' Bravo !' and urged him 
to proceed, so he continued : 

* " Come, raiie your tuneful voioei^ 

And obeenlj give tongue. 
And smooth away your frowns, men. 

Though to-morrow you'll be hung. 
Our enemies have snared us, 

And liberty hath flown ; 
Our bodies they have masters, 

But our soub they are our own.**' 

' Whence gottest thou that ditty ?' asked Bastian, inspirited 
somewhat by the liveliness of the melody. 
• I made it' 
<Thou made it thyself ?* 

SI 



32S BASILE THE JESTER 

' Even so, good Bastian.' 

' When didst thou make it ?* asked Bastian incredolouslj. 

* When 1 was in Flanders, where, being taken prisoner with 
some comrades, we were condemned to be hung on the monow. 
But our gaolers were good, and supplied us with plenty of 
wine, and to keep up the hearts of my comrades I made the 
ditty.' 

' And why wast thou not hanged ?" 

' Because I escaped up the chimney/ 

' S'death ! I knew thou wert the devil,' Bastian remarked ; 
'and now 1 think of it thou smellest sulphury. But I like 
thee though thou didst call me pig ; and I'll treat thee to 
another flagon of wine.' He gave the order, and when the 
wine was brought he poured out, with unsteady hand, two cups 
full, and tossed one off. 

In a little while the stranger noticed that his companion 
was very much under the influence of drink, and so, leaning 
forward a little, he said : 

'\ hear that her Majesty the Queen has gone for better 
safety to Borthwick Castle/ 

' Ay, and if I read the signs aright, there will be some fine 
throat-cutting erelong/ answered Bastian in a drivelling 
manner ; ' and then thou wilt be able to show thy skill at thy 
trade/ 

* Say you so ?* 

' 1 say so, and thou wilt see that I am right.' 
' Is thy master with the Queen's Majesty at Borthwick ?' 
Bastian looked up with a drunken leer on his face, and, 
laughing spasmodically, he asked : 

* Dost think my master is a fool ?' 

' No ; or an he were he would not keep so excellent m 
gentleman as thyself in his service,' returned the stranger, 
with withering irony, though Bastian was too muddled to see 
it in this light, and, actually thinking a compliment had been 
paid him, he p^rosped his companion's hand and said : 

' Thou art a worthy fellow, and I love thee. But hast thou 
not heard my master is a great man now } They call him the 
Earl of Hawksvale, and, like a wise man, he hath betaken 
himself to his castle until the storm hath blown over.' 

' Truly he is wondrous wise,' exclaimed the stranger. ' But 
thou hast not told me where his castle is.' 

' It's many a league from here,' said Bastian drowsily. ' And 



•FOR RIGHT AND RESCUE* 823 

the master's as safe there as an eagle in its nest. Nay, an he 
chose to defy the Queen's Majesty herself, she could not drag 
him from his stronghold.' 

The stranger seemed to become thoughtful and meditative, 
and in the meantime Bastian's chin dropped on his breast, and 
he commenced to snore loudly. 

The alK)ve conversation had not passed unnoticed, although 
the din of voices in the room was well-nigh deafening. But 
at the next table a group of young men were seated ; and one 
of them, a tall, fair youth of about nineteen or twenty, had 
played the eavesdrop|)er. His name was Powrie, he was an 
armourer's apprentice, and those with whom he consorted 
were fellow-apprentices in the city. 

In a little while, and imagining that he was not noticed, 
the stranger rose and passed out of the room. A moment 
after young Powrie followe<l him into the street, whither he 
had gone. It was a dismal, wretched night, and a fine rain 
was descending steadily, while the roughly-paved streets were 
like quagmires, necessitating caution and wariness in walking ; 
for the ruts and holes were so many traps, and the miserable 
oil lamps, suspended on wires across the princi|>al streets, did 
little more than make the darkness visible. The stranger had 
pulled his big sombrero hat well down over his brows, had 
wrapiMfd his cloak about him, and was picking his way along 
as best he could, when Powrie overtook him and said : 

' Permit me, good sir, a word with you.' 

The stranger stop|)ed suddenly and flashed out his rapier, 
thinking the s|)eaker was probably a foot|>ad, with which the 
town abounded. But Powrie said : 

' I'ut up thy sword, sir. I am no cut-throat, and I have but 
now left the tavern.* 

' Who art thou, then, and what wouldst thou with me ?' the 
stranger demanded in a tone so rough that it contrasted 
strangely with his erstwhile ple&sant and humorous manner. 

' I heard what passed between thee and Bastian,' Powrie 
returned, 'and learning thereby that thou art desirous of 
knowing something of one Kenaud, I offer to imjMirt to thee 
such knowledge as I possess. An I mistake not, thou hast 
strong reason for inquiring aliout Henaud.' 

The stranger sheathed his swonl, then laying his hand on 
the lad's shoulder, he tume<] him n>und so that the light from 
a neighbouring oil lamp illumined his face. 



324 BASILE THE JESTER 

'Thou hast a good face^ boy, and an honest one withal. 
Who art thou ?* 

' My name is Powrie, and I am apprenticed to Master Scoble, 
the armourer/ 

' Good. My name is — well, thou canst call me for the nonce 
Jacques, and I am a soldier of fortune. Now, say what dost 
thou know of Renaud ?' 

' Not much that is good.' 

' Thou wouldst have astonished me hadst thou said to the 
contrary.' 

' Popular opinion condemns him as one of the King's 
murderers.' 

' And popular opinion b exceedingly likely to be right,' the 
stranger replied. 

' You do not love him ?' said Powrie, 

' No ; I hate him.' 

' And so do I,' cried the lad warmly. ' He hath carried off* 
my friend Francois, sometime page to the Queen, and supposed 
to be his son ; but Francois hath told me that it is not so, and 
he went to the Gistle of Borthwick to accuse Renaud of ab- 
ducting a lady of the Court I and my companions are sworn 
to rescue Francois ; for we have a secret brotherhood or league, 
and are pledged to help each other. Wilt thou join us in our 
expedition, for since thou art a soldier thou canst render us 
great service Y 

' Ay, by the Mass and the Holy Virgin, will I !' cried the 
stranger, showing some excitement, and seizing the youth's hand. 
' Where are thy comrades, and when do they propose to start?' 

' We have arranged nothing yet,' answered the youth. 

' Have you arms }' asked the stranger. 

' Ay, we have some bows and calivers, and a few pistolets ; 
but my master, who is one of those who are sworn to bring 
the King's murderers to justice, will furnish us with plenty.' 

' That is good,' said the stranger. ' And now, tell me, dost 
know this Renaud ?' 

' No ; but I have heard my friend speak often of him. He 
hath ri^en to great power in the Queen's Court, and has been 
made an earl. Folk do say that he has mighty influence over 
the Queen's Majesty, and that he is a knave.' 

' And where is his castle ?' 

* It is on the border, in Hawksvalc,* 

' Hast thou knowledge of it ?' 



•FOR RIGHT AND RESCUE* 825 

' No ; but I have heanl that it is not very strong, and that 
Renaud hath only fifty followers.' 

' An he had six times fifty we would attack him/ said the 
stranp^er in a jubilant tone. ' But 1 must see thy comrades, 
and make arrangements for the raid. Where are they to be 
found ?* . 

' If thou wilt come to-morrow night at six of the clock to 
the taveni we have just left thou shalt find at least two dozen 
there. But we must be cautious, for Bastian hath spies ever}'* 
where.* 

' Cvood. At six of the clock to-morrow night I will be there* 
Till then, adieu.' 

He shook the hand of Powrie and hurried away, and the 
lad stood for some time looking after him and wondering who 
he was. 

On the following night, true to his promise, the stranger 
was at the tavern, where thirty apprentices and some ne'er-<lo- 
weels of the town had assembled. For an adventure of the 
kind plenty of assistance could have been had, for there were 
any nunilKT of young fellows thirsting for romantic exploit 
Caution, however, had to be exercised ; for, if the affair leaked 
out, the authorities might treat the adventurers as rioters and 
imprison them. Matters, however, were then in such an un- 
sett1e<l state, and public feeling ran so strong against the 
authorities, that an ex|>edition of the kind was likely to 
succeed. At any rate it was certain that no assistance would 
l>e sent to Renaud, he would have to defend himself, and 
therefore a bold and skilfully-planned attack might result in a 
signal victor}'. 

The stranger, or Jacques as he had called himself, soon gave 
evidence that no better leader could have been selected. Bold 
and daring, and the perfection of physical strength, he was well 
calculated to inspire young men with enthusiasm. 

Little was said or done that night at the taveni, for there 
were too many strangers present, but an arrangement was 
made for a general muster on the following Satunlay, in a 
wo<xl about three miles from the town, when some settled 
plan was to be arranged. When the Satunlay came they left 
the city in little groups and by different ways, so as not to 
an>use suspicion ; and instead of two dozen there were ne;irer 
eighty at the rendezvous. It was then arranged that on that 
day week they were to start on their expedition, and each 



326 BASILE THE JESTER 

man was to provide himself, if possible, with a horse. Before 
the week had expired, however, Francois and Kenneth had 
arrived, and Francois's delight may be imagined when he 
found a little band all ready and eager to return with him. 
And when his comrades, with whom he was a great favourite, 
heard of the outrage to which he had been subjected at the 
hands of Renaud, they swore vengeance, and vowed to rescue 
Adrienne or perish in the attempt In two days they had 
swelled their number to over a hundred, and they provided 
themselves with a large silken banner on which was worked 
the motto, 'For Right and Rescue.' Their mission soon leaked 
out, and adventurers, eager and greedy for plunder and excite- 
ment, offered their services. In fact, they might have raised 
a little army of a thousand strong, for the city was in a 
warlike mood. The nobles were mustering their forces to 
attack Bothwell, and rumour ran that the Queen, with a large 
army, was marching to meet them. Amongst those who 
heard of the expedition against Renaud was his henchman, 
Bastian, who immediately started for the south to apprise his 
master, thereby getting a start of two days. The Httle 
army was ready at last, and leaving the city by stealth, they 
met at a given rendezvous, and then under the leadership of 
Jacques, with Kenneth for his lieutenant, they commenced 
their march, nearly two hundred strong, not more than fifty 
of them being mounted. 



CHAPTER LXV. 

THE SIGN THAT BASILE SENT. 

The letter which Adrienne de Bois had written to Basile, and 
entrusted to Helen Macdonald for deliverv, was not taken to 
its destination by Helen herself, but by an old man who was 
employed by Renaud as a woodcutter in the forests surround- 
ing the castle. 

Adrienne had a very definite object in writing that sad 
letter. She knew perfectly well that if ever living man had 
truly loved a woman, Basile loved her. For years he carried 
his love silently, and never by word or sign had he ventured 
to break down the social barrier which kept him from her. 
But at last, when he saw that Renaud's persecution was telling 



THE SIGN THAT BASILE SENT S27 

upon her, he declared his love and proved his devotion for 
her. It would have been useless for her to have attempted 
to disguise from herself, even had she been so inclined, that 
Basile's was a hopeless passion. She gave him love for love, 
heart for heart ; and whatever his faults in the past might 
have been, she found him a man of noble mind, with high 
chivalric notions, and a gentle and affectionate disposition. 
She was satisfied, and ready to entrust her happiness to him, 
and had pledged herself to become his wife. In fact, some 
preparations had already been made for the wedding, which 
would certainly have taken place in Bem^'ick, had she not 
been recalled by the Queen. To respond to that call she re- 
garded as an imperative act of loyal duty. And so the 
wedding was postponed, but simply because she was anxious 
that her Majesty should give her sanction and recognition to 
it. Adrienne had not the slightest doubt that that sanction 
would be easily obtainable, but when she returned to the 
Court exciting events followed each other so rapidly, and the 
Queen was so ovem^'helmed with domestic and public troubles, 
that Adrienne did not care to intrude her own small affairs at 
such a time, and so she decided to wait for a more fitting 
opportunity. But, alas, as is oflen said, delays are fatal, and 
in this case it was destined to prove so. Adrienne had kept 
up a regular correspondence with her lover, bidding him to 
be always ho|>eful and of good cheer. Then suddenly the 
correspondence was interrupted by her abduction ; she found 
herself in Renaud's |x>wer, and his prisoner. But, notwith- 
standing this, she would have defied him to the last, And if he 
had slain her she would have died breathing words of love 
for Basile. The threatened execution of her foster-son, how- 
ever, was another thing, llie revelation made to her that 
there was no relationship at all between Franvois and Uenaud 
alarmed her terribly, because it showed her that Henaud had 
no intert\st in the lad, and he might, therefore, for obvious 
reasons, be only too glad of an excuse to put him out of his 
way. Under these circumstances, therefore, she could not 
regard his threat to kill Francis as an idle one. And even 
supposing she refused to become his wife, he would still 
gratify his paltry feelings of revenge by putting Franvois to 
death, and yet keeping her a prisoner. For being in his 
power, and knowing him as she did, she had no ho|>e of pre- 
Yailing upon him to grant her release. 



S28 BASILE THE JESTER 

In viewing her position^ therefore, in this light, it was no 
wonder she was broken-hearted, and in the extremity of 
her despair she resolved to sacrifice herself ; that is, she would 
consent to marry Renaud on condition of his immediately re- 
leasing Fran9ois, and this immediate release she would make 
an indispensable condition. But she did not give it a thought 
that Francois himself was an important factor to be taken 
into consideration ; and it was hardly possible that he would 
accept his liberty on any such terms ; while the possibility of 
his escape never once entered into her thoughts. She acted 
from the promptings of a sudden impulse, as most persons so 
situated would have done. 

When Renaud next visited her she told him that she had 
resolved to become his wife on condition of his instantly re- 
leasing Francois. She might, had she been more observant, 
have seen by the expression of his dark face that something 
had hap|>ened in the interval between this visit and the last. 
For Renaud knew then that he was no longer in a position to 
comply with that condition, since the bird he thought he had 
caged so securely had flown. Adrienne herself had heard 
the commotion caused by the alarm consequent on Francois's 
escape, but when she inquired the cause of Helen Macdonald, 
she was informed that it was only a false alarm, as some men 
thought to be border raiders had been seen near the castle. 
The news of his prisoner's escape threw Renaud into a fever 
of fierce passion, and with a dozen of his followers he instantly 
sallied forth, and scoured the country for some little distance ; 
but the night was too dark to enable a search to be carried 
on, and af^er two hours of useless riding about, he had to own 
to himself that he had been foiled, and that now his position 
and very life were in danger. He could not doubt for a 
moment that Francois would at once take steps to lay the 
truth before the Queen, and to organize some means to rescue 
Adrienne. Nevertheless, Renaud did not quite despair. His 
situation was desperate, that was true, but surely his fertile 
imagination and his genius for plotting would be equal to the 
occasion, he would find some way out of the difficulties that 
beset him. For years he had led a life of gross deception, 
and he was not likely to hesitate at still further deception 
now that his very life was threatened. It was hard to have 
to abandon so much af^er having just acquired what he had 
so long struggled for. There was no help for it. Francois 



THE SIGN THAT BASILE SENl 82y 

was his bitter enemy, that he knew, and Francis was at 
hbertv ; and being so, it would have been a mean intelligence 
that liad failed to perceive that he would make most des- 
perate efforts to pull Uenaud from his exalted position. 

' I have little time to act/ thought Renaud, ' but in that 
little time I must do much.' Then addressing Adrienne, he 
said : ' I'hou hast come to a wise decision, and since this is a 
matter that it were better not to delay, we will become man 
and wife this very night My spiritual adviser. Father Matthew, 
shall unite us.'* 

' Why this haste ?' exclaimed Adrienne, turning pale with a 
sense of fear and loathing. 

' Why should there be delay ?' he asked, manifesting some 
surprise. ' Have I not waited long enough ?' 

' It may be so,' she murmured, ' but it seemeth to me un- 
seemly haste. Besides, the conditions upon which I give 
myself to thee have yet to be fulfilled. I must see my foster- 
son. I must tell him with my own lips that I am about to 
become thy wife. Then thou must set him free, and when 
he has reached Edinburgh in safety he shall send me a 
message that that is sa Then, and not till then, will I be- 
come thine.' 

' Indeed,' exclaimed Renaud, while the cold, demon-like 
smile which was peculiar to him when he felt unusually 
savage and bitter played about his thin lips. 'Thou might 
at least give roe credit for not being altogether a fool. When 
thy foster- son is safe in Edinburgh, what guarantee have I 
that thou wilt respect thy promise ?' 

' My word of honour,' she exclaimed, with strong indigna- 
tion, while her eyes flashed angrily. 

' Word of honour,' repeated Renaud musingly. Then to 
her, ' Thy word of honour, Mademoisrlle Adrienne, may be a 
sufficient ple<lge under ordinary circumstances ; but times are 
changeable, and events are taking place rapidly, so that it 
might hap|H'n that however willing thou mightst be to keep 
thy word of honour thou wouldst be prevented by, at prest*nt, 
unforeseen contingencies.' 

' I know of nothing that is likely to prevent my fulfilling 
my pledge,' she said warmly. ' Hut thou hast my decision ; 
accept it or not, as seemeth best. If thou wouldst have me 

* It WM customarj for RomAn CathoUe lords to namber m priest AmoLg 
their retaineii. 



330 BASILE THE JESTER 

wed with thee, send for Francois at once, that I may inform 
him with my own lips of the course I am about to take. 
Then thou shalt set him free, and when he is safely arrived in 
Edinburgh, I repeat, and he sends me wonl to that effect, tlien, 
and not till then, will I become thy wife.* 

She had spoken rather excitedly, and with unmistakable 
resolution that left no room for doubt in Renaud's mind that 
he could not trifle with her. Her determined attitude pro- 
voked him into seething anger, but he made desperate efforts 
to control this, though it did not escape her notice. And she 
sighed with a sense of heavy despair, and even shuddered at 
the bare idea of becoming the wife of this man, whom she 
felt that she loathed and scorned. Renaud was conscious of 
being driven into a comer ; he saw plainly that near as the 
realisation of his wishes was, he might yet prove the axiom 
aliout there being a slip 'twixt cup and lip. But his readiness 
of resource, and his disregard of truth, aided him for the 
moment 

' I will be candid with thee,' he said. ' Thy foster-son hath 
escaped.' 

' Escaped !' she echoed, with a loud cry of joy, and clasping 
her hands with thankfulness as she murmured, ' thank God !' 

' Restrain thy joy,' Renaud said sneeringly. ' It is true 
Fran9ois escaped, but my trusty scouts were soon upon his 
track, and I have received a message that they have re- 
captured him, and are bringing him back bound hand and 
foot* 

Adrienne covered her face with her hands and groaned 
despairingly. 

'Ah,' said Renaud, with an expression of gloating pleasure, 
' thy tone soon changes. From keen joy to bitter regret is 
but a breath ; but thou mayst comfort thyself. Not a hair 
of Francois's head shall be injured, and his freedom is assured 
on condition of thou becoming my wife. Again I say that 
to-night must see us married.' 

' And again I say No. My conditions are unalterable.' 

Renaud's face was almost livid with rage at thus finding 
himself balked and thwarted. It seemed hard to him to be 
defeated in the very moment of his apparent triumph. Yet 
what could he do ? This woman had a will and he could not 
break it He might torture her mentally and physically, but 
if she chose to remain stubborn he would gain nothing. He 



THE SIGK THAT BASILE SENT 83l 

knew perfectly well he liad reached a crisis in his affairs, and 
that delay would be fatal to all his prospects. Itetirement to 
France pronii!ie<l him security, but retirement without this 
woman, or at any rate without her fortune, was not to be 
tbouf^ht of, and to attempt to olitnlii her fortune without her 
he felt assured was to attempt an impossibility. Cuntrolling 
himself, therefore, as best he could, he nude answer to 

' Thou art stranf^ly perverse, and of a doubtinf; mind ; 
■urely thou shouldst have trust and confidence in the man 
who is to be thy huslrand ?' 

She smiled bitterly as she replied : 

'When a woman loves, or even respects a man, she should 
certainly have faith in him. But I do neither, and thou art 
aware of that In consenting to wed thee, I am oHcring my- 
■elf up as a living sacrifice for the sake of the Imy who is 
dearer to me than my life. If my marriage to thee is the 
only means of saving him, then I will adopt those means ; 
and though I can never love thee, I will at least be an hiinour- 
able and faithful wife to thee.' 

' That ia something, at any rate,' he said ironically, ' and for 
even such a trifling mercy ns that, I su]>{)ose ! must he thank- 
ful. Rut Francois cannot arrive l>elure at least two daya. 
Itecome my wife to-night, and 1 give thee my sacred pledge 
tlut the moment he comrit back I will set him free.' 

' I will accept not thy pledge,' she said resolutely. ' I will 
■wait Francois's return.' 

Henaud was foiled, and he knew it; and nnable longer to 
connnand his tein|>er, he exclaimetl iMCssionately : 

' Thou art a fool, anil, by Heaven ! I'll teach thee a lesNon 
in olHilience. I'll give thee twenty-four hours to reflect, and 
if by tills time to-morrow thou hast not changed thy mind, 
I'll wetl thee not, but hang Francis like a dug as soon as he 
returns, an<l keep thee a prisoner here as long as thy life lasts, 
and I'll make that life a hell to thee.' 

He did not wait to hear her reply, but hurriedly left the 
apartment. Reply, however, she could not have made. She 
hhuddrrcd with horror, and felt she would go raving mad un- 
less she could be saved from this terrible man. 

An hour or two later Helen Manlonahl entered, and 
handed her a small packet, which her messenger had brought 
from Benviek. ^^'ith trembling hand Adrienne ofiened thit 



332 BASILE THE JESTER 

packet^ knowing that it was from Basile. Some time previous, 
soon after he had confessed his love for her, she had given 
him a ring, which was fashioned with a heart instead of a 
stone. The packet contained a tiny box, on opening which she 
discovered the ring with the heart broken in two ; and there 
was a scrap of paper on which, in Basile's handwriting, were 
the words : 

' Thou hast asked me for a sign. I send it' 

She understood to some extent the meaning of this, and, 
weeping bitterly, she moaned : 

' Poor Basile, poor Basile ! I have broken his heart' 



CHAPTER LXVL 

THE REVENGING BAND. 

It would not be easy to conceive a more incongnioos or 
motley gathering, bent upon the serious business of attacking 
a powerful stronghold, than that which sallied forth from 
Edinburgh under the man Jacques, as he was pleased to 
call himself, and whose destination was Hawksvale, whose 
object was the rescue, if possible, of Adrienne de Bois, and 
the capture of Renaud, the Earl of Hawksvale. 

Although the organization of the expedition had been 
conducted with great secrecy, in order to avoid official inter- 
ference, its aim and object had nevertheless leaked out to 
some extent, and various adventurers had been attracted to 
Jacques's standard in the hope of plunder. The times were 
essentially fighting ones, and there was a large number of the 
population which was ever ready to embrace a cause, however 
desperate, that promised plunder. Tom and distracted as the 
kingdom was by feuds and schisms, determined men by being 
united might embark upon the most hazardous adventures 
without much fear of opposition from the ruling powers. 
And at this particular juncture of affairs, when the most 
powerful nobles in the land were marching against their 
lawful sovereign, whose throne and very life were threatened^ 
predatory warfare could be carried on almost with impunity. 

Jacques's little band was composed for the most part of 
young men, some of them, in fact, being little more than boys^ 
though there were a few grizzled warriors whose scars bore 



THE RKVRNOING BAND S3S 

«^icifiice of many a desperate fray. These men, however, 
wtre the needy loiifers who loved fightinf; for fif^hting's sake, 
and who were ever roady to einhrace any cause that 'leld out 
a ho|ie of excitement and ailventure. Jacques did not ohject 
to these cut-throat rascals, because he knew that they would 
net as leaven nn his raw recruits and keep them together. 
Almost every tlescription of weagxin was represented amongst 
this little band, each man having provided himself with what 
he could get, and the consequence was, there were bows and 
arrows, ctosnIhiws, pikes, halhcnis, battle-axes, slung shot, 
clubs, chain balls, pistols, blunderbusses, ealivers, and hackbuts. 
Knch man carried aliout five days' supply of food, which cim- 
sisted principally of meal-cakes and dried meat One of the 
mounted men, not thinking it was right that the leader of the 
exjHtlition should be on foot, had given up his horse, and 
Jac<pies soon showml that hewasBnex)>ert in the art of riding, 
[lis whole bearing and maimer were well calculated to inspire 
even a less enthusiastic lumd than that which followed him. 
(iooi)- humoured and witty, he proved, nevertheless, that lie 
was not only a pnictisf<] soldier, but could be a stem discipli- 
narian, and he kept his men in band by great tact and judgnu-nL 
Fran^itis, as may l>e readily imagined, was stirred by feverish 
eagerness, and urgeil his comrades to press forward with all 
s|>eed. But many of them iH-ing unpractisetl walkers, an<l 
most of them having t» gu on foot, the rate of progress was 
comjuinitively slow ; the result l>eing that Fran^-wis and 
Kenneth were often miles ahead of their com|>anioiis. 
Although Jartgues had cpiiekly m.-ute himself jiopular and had 
won the goodwill of his followers, he luid remaiiie<l a sort of 
mystery, and no one had been able to discover anything iilMiut 
him beyond the fact that he was a foreigner, lliit flint was 
apjMireut not only by his accent, but by his general manner 
and bearing. To those who looked no further thzin the surt'aee 
his bonhomie and even temiter scenied never to alter. He 
was, to nil ap))earances, a hapjiy-go-lucky, careless, lig-fi)r-tu- 
morniw kind 4>f fellow, who extracted from life every atom of 
enjoyment that was to l>e got, and whose di^{Ml^ilion was so 
singularly happy and o<mtente<I, tiiat not <'ven a slindow nf a 
filiatle of trouble cloudeil his mind. But there was one who 
looked ■ little below the surface, ami saw that there was a 
shadow, and tliat Jacques was disturbed by a haunting memory. 
It happened on tlie second night out, when the little band were 



334 BASILE THE JESTER 

encamped, or rather bivouacked, in a wood, Jacques sat apart 
on a log of wood before the smouldering ashes of a wood-fire. 
Fran9oiv^disturbed by many conflicting thoughts concerning 
his foster-mother, whose fate he was anxious about, could not 
sleep, and had been pacing about restlessly, until at last, feeling 
cold, he approached the fire where Jacques was seated. The 
leader was peering into the glowing embers, with a far-away 
and dreamy expression in his eyes, and two or three times 
he uttered a sigh so plaintive and melancholy that Fran9ois 
was astonished. 

* By my faith !' exclaimed Francois, ' an it were not ridiculous 
to suppose that thou couldst be troubled by such a thing as a 
heart, 1 would vow that thou wert in love, since thou sighest 
like some forlorn swain.' 

Jacques half started up. He had been so absorbed and so 
contemplative that he had not noticed Francois's approach. 

' Gad's truth, boy !' he exclaimed, ' thou hast come upon 
me so suddenly that I swear thou hast well-nigh startled me.' 
Then he broke into a laugh, which had, however, a ring of 
sadness in it, and he said : ' In love, forsooth ! and wherefore 
not ? Am 1 not a man ? But thou art wrong, sweet youth. 
1 did but sigh for that which was. Love is no more for me. 
My love is dead. But, come, sit thee down and tell me some- 
thing of thyself 1 hear that thou art French. Thou art my 
countryman therefore.' 

' Ay, but 1 left France too young to know aught about it,' 
responded Francois. 

' Do thy parents live there still }' 

This question caused Fran9ois's cheeks to bum, and he made 
answer . 

* My mother is dead. God rest her soul ! She was killed 
on the day that good Queen Mary was wedded to the Dauphin.' 

' Ah, that was a day !' said Jacques reflectively. ' How well 
I remember it ; or, rather, how well I don't remember it, for 
1 was too much soaked with wine to remember aught. But 
thy father, what of him ?' 

' I don't know,' answered Francois snappishly. ' I was 
brought here by a man who claimed to be my father, but who 
is not.* 

' And who is that }' 

^The black-souled knave Renaud, whom the foul fiend 
clutch 1' 



THE REVENGING BAND S33 

Whom the foul fiend clutch !' echoed Jacques between his 
Kt teeth, while Ills eyes flashed anger-fire. 'Thou knowest 
much of this Renaud t 

'Ay: 

' But naught that is Rood.' 

'(iood!' exclairoed Francois, with a lEttle laugh. 'He b 
not even good enough to bum. I pray the saints that I may 
have the plea-sure of sheathing this dagger in his false heart.' 
As he s[x>ke he drew his dagger and flourished it menacingly, 
Bn<l made a stab at some imaginnr}' figure in the dark. 

' Put thy skewer up, boy,' said Jacques sternly. ' I have 
an older score than thee against Monsieur Renaud, and by the 
time I have wiped out mine there wilt not be much of Monsieur 
Itenaud left for thee to pmctise ujwn. But thou art young 
yet, and may have ample op|wrtuiiity to flesh thy maiden steel 
ill a worthier carcase.' 

' Who art thou, and what in thy grudge against Renaud ?' 
asked Fran<,-ois in some astonishiiicut. 

' 1 am the devil, and Keimud hiis cheated me,' Jacques 
answered cynically. 

' Nay, be serious,' said Francis. ' 1 like not thy levity at 
■uch an hour. But, come, tell me something of thyself.' 

'Tut, man, 1 have naught to tell thee, save that I have 
sworn to slay Itenaud ! ^^'hcll that is aceompliKhed, 1 intend 
to miouncc the world, and take monastic vuws.' 

'Thou art a mystery,' said Francois in a disap|H>inted tone. 

' Ay, and I fain would remain one. Go, get thee to sleep, 
for we will resume our march at dawn of day.' 

Although Franrois's curiosity was only stimulated by the 
other's reticence, he did nut feel dis)x>sed to pursue his 
intjuiries further now, for n dn>wsiness came over him, and so, 
wishing his comrade gixHl-nlght, he stretched himself on the 
ground, rolled himself up in his cloak, and was sixm nsleejt. 

The morning broke raw and chill. A heavy dew hiul 
saturated the ground and the surrounding foliage, and all was 
damp and cheerless. The fires had Mnnuldered away tii lleajts 
of white ashes ; and as the little band awoke they felt 
(lisjiirited and jailetl. Many of them had left ctimrurtable 
htniies, and this kitid of roughing it, with scant AnxI and only 
the wet ground for a bed, wa.s hard to liear. For a time the 
enthusiasm had died out, and if anyone ba<] had the murage 
to suggest a retreat, it is probable tliat the majority of tUtt 



3S6 BASILE THE JESTER 

shivering wretches would speedily have retraced their steps 
to the capital But^ with a soldier's instinct, Jacques took in 
the situation, and in a cheery voice he sang out : 

' What ho, for Hawksvale ! By St Nicholas, but if aU be 
true that one hears, my Lord of Hawksvale's castle will 
afford us rich pickings. Pile up the faggots there and warm 
your chilled blood, and then southward we go/ 

These words had the desired effect, and soon the hot ashes 
leapt into flames as sticks were cast upon them ; and then the 
men prepared their morning meal, and before half an hour 
had elapsed all were eager and cheerful again, and soon the 
march recommenced. Fran9ois had for some time been very 
thoughtful. He was pondering on the conversation he had 
had with Jacques, until an idea suddenly struck him, and 
watching for an opportunity when he could speak to the leader 
alone, he said in an anxious tone : 

'Jacques, I believe that thou art my father.' 

Jacques broke out into a loud laugh, and reined in his horse 
that he might the better give vent to his merriment. 

' Art distraught, lad,' he exclaimed, ' or hath some mis- 
chievous elf been playing tricks with thy wits during the 
night ? Thy father ! Alack ! no. Thou mightest have a 
worse sire and I a less favoured son ; but I knew not thy 
mother, boy, and have no kinship with thee.* 

Francois sighed, and was sorrowful, and murmured dis- 
appointedly : 

* Is it ever to be so ? Am I never to know who and what I 
am ?* He was very depressed, for the mystery regarding his 
parentage weighed u]>on his mind, and he could not hope now 
to gain any information from Renaud. In fact, so strong was 
his feeling of hatred for Renaud that he thirsted with a strong 
desire to kill him, and he had mentally resolved that if the 
attack on Hawksvale should prove successful he would 
endeavour with his own hand to revenge the years of wrong 
he and his foster-mother had suffered on the part of Renaud. 

Inspirited by Jacques's lightheartedness, the little band were 
soon in the best of moods, and for many hours marched along 
at a steady, swinging pace that rapidly brought them near 
their goal. But it was not until the close of the following day 
that they entered Hawksvale, and saw dimly and afar off the 
battlements of the gloomy castle, as they were defined against 
that part of the sky where light still lingered. Fran^'ois's 



THE REVENGING BAND 357 

heart beat rapidly, and he was agitated with many hopes and 
fears as he turned his eyes to the castle which was Adrienne's 
prison. Was she still safe ? he thought Had she been sjMired 
further indignities ? Would the morrow see her free ? 

It was deeidetl by Jac(]ues and Kenneth that the attack 
should not be delivered until towards the break of day, for 
there being no moon at this time, the night would be too dark 
to |)ermit of operations being carried on. Jacques, therefore, 
instructed his followers to rest for the next two hours, and 
absolute silence was enjoined, while no fires were allowed to 
be lighted. 

Later, when inky darkness had shut out everything, and 
nothing could be distinguished half-a-dozen yards away, the 
little Imnd was once more put in motion, and stealthily in 
single file they crept through the forest until they were almost 
under the walls of the castle, where they were to remain, 
waiting for the first glimmering light of dawn, before making 
the attempt to surprise the garrison. 



CHAPTER LXVII. 

'UKE A WOUNDED TIOEIu' 

It will be rememl>ered that Bastian had started off from 
Edinburgh two days before the expedition, in order that he 
might warn his master, and so put him on his guard. The 
news threw Reiiaud into a perfect fever, begotten by his 
passion. The coolness and diplomatic caution which had 
hitherto characterized him seemed to have deserted him since 
he had acquired so much |x>wer ; and the restraint which he 
had erstwhile been able to exercise over himself when he had 
aught to gain was now no longer possible, since what he hatl 
gained was at stake. For years he had struggled and intrigued 
to n*ach his present |H»sition, and now in the very moment of 
his fancied triumph it seemetl as if all was in a fair way of 
being lost Bastian's information therefore threw him into a 
perfect |Min>xysm of rage, and his first impulse was to fly in 
order that his life might not be jeo|)anlized, for he was at 
heart a pitiable craven, and had a terrible fear of death. In 
all probability he would have yielded to this impulse ; but 
what could he do with Adrienne? It would be a difficult 



888 BASILE THE JESTER 

matter indeed to cairy her to France against her wilL And^ 
besides, his object was to secure legal possession of her fortune^ 
and that could only be done by marriage. Once again, there- 
fore, and as a despairing effort, he repaired to the chamber, 
and tried to cajole, and then to coerce her by threats and fears 
into compliance with his wishes. But she remained steadfast 
and resolute, firmly refusing to become his wife until she had 
seen Francois. In fact, the persistency with which he urged 
her to marry him immediately, and the anxiety he displayed, 
served to put her on her guard, and she began to suspect that 
he was deceiving her about Fran9ois's recapture. That her 
foster-son had really escaped she readily believed, because she 
could not for a moment imagine that RenaucT would have 
been so mad as to have killed him, seeing that by doing so he 
would at once have deprived himself of the oidy weapon he 
possessed that was likely to be of any avail against her. On 
the other hand, if the lad had not escaped, why did Renaud 
not produce him } The conviction therefore grew upon her 
that Francois had got clear off, and this made her firm as a rock 
against Renaud's arguments. There are some men who, on 
finding themselves foiled when they have looked for and 
calculated on a triumph, become almost inhuman in their spite 
and rage. It was so in Renaud's case. He had come so near 
to realizing all his most daring schemes that it was unbearable 
to find himself defeated at the last moment 

Seeing that threats and persuasions were alike useless, he 
displayed his true character to Adrienne, for his rage and 
chagrin got the better of his judgment, and he revealed him- 
self to her as a cowardly bully filled with venomous spite : in 
the heat of his passion striking her a cruel blow in the face. 

Although she was crushed in spirit, and her heart seemed 
as if it were turning to lead, she felt as if she could endure all, 
and bear silently with any indignity so long as Francois was 
safe. Her trials and sorrows only served to bring out all the 
most noble qualities of her mind. And the mother's love for 
the boy who was not her son gave her strength to bear with the 
resignation of a martyr the cruelties to which she was exposed 

' I will kill you rather than let you out of my hands !' were 
Renaud's words, as he left her for the time being, to give his 
attention to putting his castle in a state to withstand an attack. 

His cowardly threat, which she did not doubt would be 
carried out^ did not alarm Adrienne, She devoutly committed 



•LIKE A WOUNDED TIGER" SS9 

herself to the care of Heaven, and was fully prepared to meet 
her fate, whutcver it might be. 

Although Itenaud felt that hts castle in itself was strong 
enough to withstand any unlinary attack short of an actual 
siege, he was dismayed as he revised how few were his 
retainers. They numlN:red altogether about fifly, but not more 
than thirty of them were really fighting men. He was refts»ured, 
however, when Bastinn told him that his enemies were an un- 
disciplined ' band of boys,' quite incapable of any serious effort 
at warfare. 

' llicn we'll teach them a lesson that they will long 
remember,' he said boastfully. ' It were more fitting, |>erhaj>s, 
that instead of bringing our weapons to bear against them we 
sallied forth with canes and whipped them. Uut a little 
blood-letting will do them no harm, it may be, and may save 
us from similar annoyances in the future.' He said this 
bantcringly, though he could scarcely have helped a feeling 
that, after all, it was a sorry joke, because he knew perfctlly 
well that Francis would be the moving spirit of tlie party, and 
young though he was, he had a lion's courage and all the 
qualities of a soldier. Moreover, was not his mission the 
rescuing of his foster-mother ? and that purpose in itself would 
ins|>ire his fuiloweni with enthusiasm and daring. ' Bastian,* 
he said, an he thought over this — ' Bastion, thou hast ever been 
a devoted and faithful follower of mine, and thy interests ore 
now inseparably bound up with my own. Thou cnuldst now 
put the cniwning act ufKin thy devotion by rendering me a 
service which would be so great at to be almost Iteytmd price !' 

' What is it, master .'' asked the creature. ' An I can do it, 
thuu hast but to command !' 

' Place in my [tower again the youth Francois, and thou sfaalt 
name thine own reward,' said Kcnaud. 

'That may not be so easy,' Ita-itian aiiswcretl thoughtfully. 

'In thy youth thou wast a soldier,' pursm-d Itenaud, as a new 
hope dawned within him. 'Sun-Iy thou hast not lost thy 
cunning in the use of arms, and art yet ca|>Kb)e of making a 
bold dash !' 

' What wouldht thou propose then ?' Bastian askwl with 
curiosity. 

'1 would propose that when these untrained Utys, who, thou 
hast informeil me, are marching against my castle, come in 
tight, tbou shuuldst sally forth with half a dusen or sg vf 



S40 BASILE THE JESTER 

picked fightipijr men, and cutting thy way, regardless of cost, 
to Francois, seize him from the very midst of his rabble, and 
deliver him once more into my hands.' 

Bastian was silent for a few minutes. He was turning the 
matter over in his mind. Bad as he was, he was not lacking 
in courage of a certain kind, and the adventure proposed 
recommended itself to him. But, although he had underrated 
the enemy to his master, he did not doubt that Francis would 
be well supported. He was anxious, however, to serve his 
master, not from any desire for gain — for strangely enough he 
was not mercenary, but he had a dog's fidelity, and base as 
his nature was, he was faithful in his attachment. 

' I will attempt it,' he said at last. 

* Say thou wilt accomplish it,' Renaud remarked joyfully. 

* I cannot accomplish the impossible,' Bastian returned ; * but 
if it is to be done thou mayst rely on my doing it.' 

Renaud's hopes rose rapidly ; he seized and shook his crea- 
ture's hand with delight, and embraced him in accordance 
¥dth the custom of his country. This man might yet save him, 
he thought ; and if he could succeed in once more getting 
Fran9ois into his keeping, his dearest wishes might be realized. 
He was elated with the new hope, and exceedingly san- 
guine that the hope would become fruition. Nevertheless, he 
neglected no precaution, for though he could not bring him- 
self to believe it possible that Francois could have any con- 
siderable gathering, he was determined to be on his guard. 
One of his precautions was the sending out at dusk of some ot 
his men as scouts, whose instructions were to bring in word 
immediately the enemy was sighted. It thus chanced that 
one night these scouts returned post-haste with the informa- 
tion that the enemy had entered the vale, and were stealthily 
creeping up to the castle. Beyond this bare fact the scouts 
could say nothing as to the numbers or com}X)sition of the 
attacking force, though they expressed a belief that there were 
not many. Renaud smiled as he heard this, and rubbing his 
hands gleefully, he munnured, ' There may not be many now, 
but there will be fewer in a little while. It is not ray fate to 
be destroyed by a puny rabble of beardless boys.' 

All through the dreary hours of darkness a sleepless vigilance 
was kept in the castle. Renaud himself slept not, but kept 
moving about throughout the night. A little while before the 
day broke^ Bastian^ at the head of half a dozen men^ all armed 



•LIKE A WOUNDED TIGER' S41 

to the teeth^ left the castle by the sally-port to endeavour to 
seize Fran^'ois. 

' Fail not !' said Renaud, as he watched his creature depart 

' In less than three hours Francois shall be within these 
walls/ Bastian answered boastfully ; 'or call me no more thy 
servant/ he added^ as he disap]>eared in the darkness. 

In the meantime Jacques and his followers had taken up 
their position within bow-shot of the castle walls, where they 
pre|)ared to wait until daylight should enable them to deliver 
their attack. They were cold, weary, and hungry ; but they 
|M>ste<l their guards, and observing a solemn silence, threw 
themselves down on the wet ground, in the hope of obtaining 
a brief rest But Jacques himself was watchful, and on the 
alert, as became a commander ; and so it liap|)ened that when 
the night was well-nigh spent, and one of the guards ran in 
exclaiming, ' Master Jac(]ues, there are men approaching, or 
rate me a fool !' the warning was sufficient for Jacques. He 
instantly an)used all his little band, and bade them be pre- 
(>ared. Then he went forward himself to reconnoitre, and 
s|)ee<lily discovered that the approaching strangers were few 
in number. Returning hastily, he disposed his foUowen with 
soldierly skill ; dividing them into groups, but within touch of 
each other, and giving them orders to let the oncomers get 
into their midst, when they were to surround them and cut 
them down if they showed resistance. 

All unconscious that his presence had been discovered, 
Bastian marched forward a little ahead of his companions, who 
followed in single file, until suddenly they heard a cry of 
command, then a rush of many feet, and they found themselves 
battling furiously with an unseen enemy. 

' Hold together and strike hard !' exclaimed Bastian, as a 
rallying cry ; but he soon discovered that he had fallen into an 
ambuscade, and l>eing somewhat in advance of his followers, he 
was surrounded, while a blow from a hackbut bniught him to 
the ground. It is certain that he would have l)een des(Mitchc*d 
there and then, but it hnp(>enetl that Jactpitrs was by, and not 
knowing who the prostrate man was, he exclaimetl : 

' Hold your hands, comrades, and secure that foe ; he may 
be able to give us information.' 

This timely interference saved Bastian's life. He was 
grievously wounded and helpless ; but his limbs were tied 
with cords, xuid he was lashed to the trunk of % tree, where. 



342 BASILE THE JESTER 

writhinp^ ¥dth pain, and chafing like a caged wild beast, he 
cursed his ill luck, and called himself a fool for having nin 
into such a trap. 

Daylight at last crept up the eastern sky, and a sullen day 
broke. The sky was overcast, the surrounding hills were 
wrapped in gray mist, and a ni|)ping wind swept down the 
valley. Of the six men who had accompanied Bastian two 
were slain, but the others had effected their escape in the 
darkness, and had no doubt returned to the castle. The 
victor}', however, had not been won without cost, and ^ve of 
Jacques's followers had bitten the dust. On going to where 
his prisoner was, in order that he might interrogate him, 
Jacques was surprised to recognise Bastian. 

' What ho ! friend,' he cried, with a laugh. ' I give thee 
greeting. But how is it I find thee in such a plight? By 
the Mass, but thou hast the look of one who has o'erdrunk 
himself. Now, 1 dare be sworn thou wert not abed last night. 
Truly, sweet friend, thou must mend thy ways an thou wouldst 
live long.* 

Bastian groaned with impotent rage at being thus taunted, 
and with a defiant expression in his bloodless face, he hissed 
out: 

' A curse upon thee, devil ! An I were free I would teach 
thee how to respect thy betters.' 

* Thy language is not choice,' answered Jacques ironically. 
' But the night's dissipation has ruffled thy temper. Control 
thyself, good friend, and make thyself agreeable. Come, now, 
tell me, is thy honourable master prepared for our visit? By 
the Mass, but we are a-hungered, and are impatient to sit 
within his hall. I'll warrant me that we do justice to his 
venison and his wine.' 

Bastian growled like a wounded tiger that was being teased, 
and he answered savagely : 

* Thou wilt find, 'ere thou hast grown another hour older, 
that the spirit of bragging will have been taken out of thee. 
Nay, if thou wilt but cut these curscil ro|>es and give me a 
weapon, I'll ]X)und thee into jelly, and hang thy boasting 
tongue on a tree for hawks to peck at.* 

' Now art thou too kind,' said Jacques sarcastically ; ' and 
much do I regret me that want of time will not permit me 
to gratify thy very reasonable desires. I have business with 
thy master^ and until that is settled I shall hav^ to deprive 



THE MYSTERIOUS JACQUES S4S 

myself of thy most excellent com|>any. But thou shalt be 
well eareil for in my absence, and shouklst thou find thy life 
unbearable my men shall relieve thee of thy burden. Nay, 
man, scowl not nor look so fiercely. Thou art in delicate 
health, and it were better that thou shouldst com|M)se thy- 
self; for truly, an thou wert to die, thy place could not be 
filled.' 

Bastian fairly foamed as his enemy thus mocked him, and 
woundetl and weak as he was he made a desperate effort to 
burst his bonds, but the effort was fruitless, and he leaned 
Imck against the tree with a groan of pain, while Jacques 
hurried away to form his men ready for the attack, which 
began by a flight of arrows that were directed against the 
soldiers who were visible on the battlements of the castle. 



CHAPTER LXVHL 

THE MYSTERIOUS JACQUES 

There was consternation in the castle of Hawksvale when 
the four men who had escaped from the fury of Jacques's 
followers rushed back with the news that they had fallen into 
an ambuscade ; that two of their number and Bastian were 
slain, and they themselves had only escaped with great diffi- 
culty. As it was, one of them was seriously wounded, and 
another slightly so; and they all bore the signs of having been 
engaged in a des|>erate fray. They had evidently conceived 
an exaggerated notion of the enemy's numbers, for they stated 
that an immense army was closing up round the castle. 

Renaud heard the news with dumb amazement and a sense 
of shrinking fear. With Bastian dead, one of his pillars of 
strength had gcme, he thought, and for himself it must be a 
deadly struggle for dear life. Could it be |X)ssible that afler 
all his great striving his ho|)es were to be shattered, his 
possessions crumbled into the dust, and he, even if he escaped 
with his life, driven forth as a beggared fugitive ? 

In that hour of his darkness and mortal fear the thought 
came to him, not knowing that his enemy was already in 
flight himself, that this was the work of the Earl of lioth- 
W(*ll, and as he so thought he found tongue to utter im- 
precations on Bothwcll's liead« But this very thought served 



3U BASILE THE JESTER 

to unnerve him, for to let Bothwell triumph were a bitterness 
almost worse than death. And so with the energy of utter 
desperation he applied himself to the defence of his strong 
hold. His men were few, but even those few, if resolute, might 
defy an army, for the castle was powerful, and being so near 
the frontier was always in a state of preparedness against 
sudden attack. The moat was deep and full of water, and 
now the drawbridge was drawn up and the massive portcullis 
was lowered, so that a formidable, if not an impassable, barrier 
was thus imposed to the attacking force. 

As Renaud strained his eyes in search of his foes he saw 
forms issue like phantoms from the enshrouding mists, and 
then a flight of arrows whistled through the air, and two of 
them found their billets in the bodies of two of his fighting men, 
one of whom, being pierced through the brain, fell instantly 
dead, while the other was disabled. Renaud beheld this with 
dismay, for to lose two of his men, when their number was so 
few, was a disaster. 

' Return that with interest,' he cried hoarsely, and answering 
to his cry his archers shot their arrows, and he himself seized 
a crossbow, and sped a formidable bolt into the advancing 
column. Then his thoughts flew to his wretched and un> 
happy captive, Adrienne de Bois. And with the meanness 
that was such a conspicuous trait in his composition, he resolved 
that she should have no chance of esca|)e. He knew well 
that Francois's aim and object were to rescue Adrienne, that 
strenuous efforts would be made to effect an entrance into the 
castle, and if once that were done all would be lost. ' But 
even in his moment of triumph,' Renaud thought, ^ I will 
defeat him, ami Adrienne shall die.' 

He rejjaired at once to her chamber and entered without 
any ceremony. She had not yet risen, nor had she been even 
disturbed, for from the position of the room she heard nothing 
of the commotion the attack had caused. Renaud's rude and 
abrupt entrance startled her into full wakefulness, and with a 
cry of alarm she demanded to know how he dared to intrude 
u]X)n her privacy in such a manner. 

' Rise from thy bed,' he exclaimed savagely. * The castle is 
attacked, and I would place thee in safety.' 

Adrienne's heart leapt into her mouth with mingled fear 
and hope — fear lest this coward should kill her in spiteful 
anger, and hope that the castle might fall and she be released. 



* THE MYSTERIOUS JACQUES S4:, 

* I rise not until thou hast retired/ she answeretl with 
dignity. ' I may be thy captive, but at least I am not thy slave.' 

' There is no time to bamly words, and none for ceremony/ 
he cried. ' Do as I bid thee, or by the Mass thy stubbornness 
may excite me to strangle thee where thou liest.' 

Poor Adrienne trembled with terrible fear as the ruffian thus 
threatene<l her ; but still her wounded dignity and sense of 
bc.i-respect gave her strength to answer him. 

' If thou art not entirely lost to every sense of chivalry and 
to manly consideration for the weakness of my sex, thou wilt 
leave me/ she said firmly and yet pleadingly. But he was in 
no mood to listen to pleading^s, and certainly not to show pity. 
He was exasperated, and moved by a desire to give vent to 
his feelings by cruelty. He glared at her with malicious 
anger as he replied : 

'Thou hast always thwarted me, always defied me. But 
know this, the castle is surrounded, should my enemy triumph 
it will be the signal for thy death.' 

' What wouldst thou with me }' she gasped with almost 
palsied lips, as she inferred from his tone and manner that he 
intended to kill her. 

'I would place thee where none other can find thee, and 
where I can slay thee as soon as the first of the enemy scales 
the walls, for an my time has come I swear thou shalt not out- 
live me/ 

His terrible threats and fierce bearing deprived her of her 
strength, for her heart seemed to stand still as a sense of blank 
des}Niir came u|M>n her, and burying her face in her hands, she 
moaned in agony. This only seemed to increase Ucnaud's 
fury, and to exhaust any little stock of patience he had 
remaining, so that he stnKle fiercely across the room, and 
seizing her, he lifted her like a child, and then, in spite of her 
screams and struggles, he carried her along the st^me |)assages, 
and descending a secret flight of steps he reached a subter- 
ranean passage. At the end of this (mssage was a dungeon,* 
which was situated below the castle keep. By this time the 
unfortunate Adrienne had swooned, so that he bore her along 
with less difficulty. He had |)mvided himself with the key, 
and opening the door, he carried her into the dungeon, which 

* Tb« reader need vcarcely be reminded that all «tronghidda at tl.in 

period were provided with dung 'on^ or prijioni, which were fret^utrntly the 
Mvnet <^ unuitcraUe human ^utf* ring. 



346 BASILE THE JESTER 

was pitch dark and smelt like a tomb ; and in truth it was little 
better than a tomb, for by a diabolical arrangement a trap- 
door in the wall could be opened by a lever worked from above. 
The opening of this door gave access to the waters of the 
moat, so that the wretched victim could be drowned like a 
caged rat. Renaud was excited and almost beside himself with 
rage, and without one pitying thought for the poor lady whom 
he was treating with such barbarity, he placed her, insensible 
as she was, on the damp earth floor, and closing the door 
behind him he hurried away. In a few minutes, however, he 
seemed to relent, and seeking out Helen Macdonald, he bade 
her descend to Adrienne's assistance, and to take coverings, 
restoratives and a light. He then went out to see what pro- 
gress the flght was making. 

The attacking force had not gained any advantage, while 
the defenders were presenting a very bold front, though 
Renaud learned with dismay that three more of their number 
had been slain ; but the resolution and the desperate boldness 
of the besiegers showed that they were not to be easily beaten 
off. 

As Renaud peered over the battlements he beheld Fran9ois, 
and knowing that if he could but succeed in taking him alive 
he would win his cause, he cried to his men : 

'A thousand crowns for him who seizes that youth and 
brings him in alive ! What ho ! captain of the guard, con- 
centrate thy strength at the castle gate for its defence. Lower 
the drawbridge, and with a dozen of thy best men make a 
bold dash into the enemy's midst and bring me back that boy, 
and a thousand crowns are thine.' 

The captain looked at his chief in perfect amazement, 
knowing how mad-brained was the order, for to lower the 
bridge was to give the enemy a way to enter. He attempted 
to remonstrate, but Renaud, knowing how desperate was his 
case, felt that some desperate remedy must be tried ; and the 
very daring of the deed he proposed might, if done with a 
brilliant dash, be successful. Therefore, he would not listen 
to remonstrance, but sternly ordered the captain to obey his 
command. The man was a soldier, fighting was his trade, 
and though he recognised the danger of the undertaking, he 
merely shrugged his shoulders, and then, calUng his men 
to;rether, gave them their instructions. 

When all was ready the portcullis was raised, the drawbridge 



THE MYSTERIOUS JACQUES 347 

was lowered, and the captain, followed by a dozen men, rushed 
across to where Francois was directing the movements of a 
body of archers. Nothing that Renaud could have devised 
could have so thoroughly defeated his own plans and played 
into his enemy's hands. Had his garrison been a powerful 
one the move might have had some chance of success, but it 
was too weak to prevail against a determined onslaught ; 
though even had it been otherwise, the ste^ would have been 
a risky one when such a leader as Jacques was in command. 
Most ablv seccmded by Kenneth, he proved himself to be a 
master of strategy, and seemed to be ubiquitous, while by his 
daring and skill he inspired his followers to deeds of valour. 
Determined at any cost to effect an entrance into the castle, 
and knowing from Kenneth's statement how small the garrison 
was, he had, by Kenneth's advice, collected some of his men 
who were to swim the moat, and, by means of rough scaling 
ladders they had extemporised, to scale the walls. But while 
this plan was being discussed they saw with astonishment the 
drawbridge lowered, and the defenders rush across it. With 
the quickness of soldierly instinct Jacques guessed that this 
bold move was meant to strike terror, and gain an advantage 
by a sudden blow ; notwithstanding that, he considered it a 
mad act. Warning Francois and his party by a cry, Jacques 
quickly had his men in hand, and, moving at precisely the 
sight moment, he swooped down so as to cut off the retreat of 
those who had come out, and in a few minutes he had won 
the bridge. An attempt was made to drop the portcullis, but 
one of the chains got foul, and before it could be cleared 
Jacques and his bold followers had sprung forward and were 
engaged in deadly strife beneath the archway. 

Although the attackers outnunibi^red the defenders, it 
seemed doubtful for some time which side would score the 
victory. But others of Jacques's followers had rushed upon 
the bridge to their leader's assistance, and soon the defeiiclers 
were forced liack inch by inch until the courtyard was gained. 
But here, encourngeil by Renaud, they made a despairing stand, 
and a fierce combat ensued. The captain of the guard, how- 
ever, had been shot dead by an arrow almost as soon as he got 
across the bridge, and his men, becoming demoralized, were 
easily defeated. Thus the bold movement had disastniusly 
failed, an<l had absolutely been the means of placing the castle 
in the hands of the enemy, who now swarmed in to the assist- 



348 BASILE THE JESTER 

ance of their leader. The struggle was very unequal^ and the 
resistance ceased by reason of most of the defenders bein^ 
slain or overpowered. 

Jacques had not won his victory without loss ; many of his 
men were prone on the earth, and would never of their own 
accord rise again. Francois had fortunately remained scath- 
less during the tnelee, although he had not hesitated to bear 
his share of the full brunt of the battle. He had singled out 
Renaud, who, blanched by despair and fear to the hue of a 
corpse, fought with mad desperation ; but so unskilfully that 
he did little more than save himself from being cut down. 
At last, however, his strength failed him, and Francois sprang . 
forward with the intention of running him through the body, 
but at that instant the sword was struck out of his hand, and 
someone in a voice of thunder cried : 

* Hold ! spare that man !' and to Francois's astonishment 
Jacques threw himself between him and his intended victim. 
Fran(;ois was literally dumfounded. He stood for some 
moments staring in speechless wonderment at the man who 
had thus balked him of his prey. At last he was enabled to 
give expression to his feelings, and, snatching up his sword, 
he exclaimed : - 

' Wherefore, Jacques, dost thou interpose between me and 
the man who for years has inflicted wrong and injury upon 
me } For this moment I have panted, in this moment I would 
take the full measure of my revenge, but thou of all men 
would shield the impostor from my just vengeance. Stand 
aside, I say, and let me have at him ! I have cruel blows and 
bitter persecution to wipe out — persecution of myself and of 
my beloved foster-mother. Stand aside, I say, while I cut the 
wretch down !* 

He stepped forward and raised his sword ; but Jacques, 
with a fierce gesture, thrust him aside with such force that he 
reeled, and only saved himself from falling by great dexterity. 
Jacques's whole manner had changed. He was no longer the 
pleasant-looking man, full of good humour and geniality. 
There was a passionate expression amounting almost to ferocity 
in his face, and his bearing and wrath suggested danger that 
it were folly to tempt. 

* I have already spoken,' he hissed hoarsely. ' And at thy 
peril strike this man. Nay, an thou dost so much as injure a 
hair of his head, I'll hack thee to mincemeat.' 



THE MYSTERIOUS JACQUES S4<) 

If Francis was amazed, it may readily be imagined what 
Renaud's feelings were in thus finding a saviour in his hour of 
mortal peril. Fear and exhaustion had deprived him of 
strength. Pale to ghastliness, his eyes prominent through 
terror, his nostrils pinched, and his mouth drawn, he was like 
a living cor|>se. His conscience must have smitten him sorely 
in that supreme moment, to have caused such craven shrinking. 
He, who had inflicted pain and wrong for years, was a palsied 
coward now that pain and death stared him in the face. 
Cowering close to his protector, whose arm he seized, he whined 
out piteously and in trembling accents : 

' I know not who thou art, but I thank thee for thy inter- 
ference. Thou art a true knight, since thou hast interposed 
to save an unfortunate man from the violence of an ingrate. 
I have been a true and good friend to that youth, but he has 
ever repaid my services with rebellious and wicked conduct 
Now he has headed a rabble to invade my residence and destroy 
my pro|x;rty. I am a peaceful citizen, unused to the arts of 
war, and ifty only desire is to live at peace with all men. I 
pray you, good gentleman, therefore, protect me. Rid me of 
these ruffians and place that ungrateful youth in my keeping, 
and I vow by the Blessed Virgin that half my fortune shall be 
thine.' 

As Francois heanl the whinings of the lying hypocrite, his 
blood fairly boiled, and he matle a desperate lunge at the 
cringing coward ; but with marx-ellous quickness Jacques 
warded off the blow, and again dashed him back and roared 
in stentorian tones : 

' By Heaven, an thou dost not obey me, I'll cleave thee in 
twain ! Thou shalt only reach this man over my dead Ixxly.' 

Francois was furious at being thus foiled by the very man 
upon whose assistance he depended, and whom he deemed his 
friend. He did not attempt to reascm with himself as to the 
cause which had so suddenly changed Jacques. But smarting 
under a sense of wrong, and inwardly writhing at thus being 
baffled, he raised the ntllying cry of * For right and rescue !* 
and as half a dozen of his friends rushed fom-ard he exclaimed : 
' What ho ! a traitor there ! Jaotjues is a traitor lo us. Cut 
him down^-cut him down !' Then he made a fierce onslaught 
on hi& antagonist, aide<l by his friends, and Jao(]ues thus found 
himself battling for his life. For a few moments he did 
nothing more than |>arr}' with wondnms skill the furious blows 



350 BASILE THE JESTER 

that were aimed at him. Almost paralyzed with fear, Renaud 
crouched behind him. Jacques knew perfectly well that he 
could not long maintain such an unequal struggle, but 
strangely enough^ he had not yet aimed a single blow, though 
it is certain that his marvellous skill and strength of wrist 
would have enabled him to cut down some at least of his 
foemen. Now addressing himself to Fran9ois, he cried : 

' Madman ! why art thou wasting thy strength and sub- 
stance with this impotent rage ? Thou camest here to save 
thy foster-mother. Yet hast thou already forgotten her. 
Shame on thee ! Thou art an ingrate indeed.' 

These words had a ma^^ical effect on Fran9ois ; he seemed 
ashamed of himself. Truly, in his passion he had forgotten 
Adrienne, and his conscience smote him. 

' Leave him ! leave him !' he called out to his friends. 
' There is a lady in distress. To the rescue of Adrienne de 
Bois !' Seizing this opportunity, Jacques turned to the 
trembling Renaud and said : 

' Quick, an thou wouldst save thyself, lead the way to thy 
private chamber.' 

Renaud needed no second bidding, but, like a startled 
animal, he turned and fled, followed by Jacques. He entered 
the castle, darted along the corridor, and mounting a flight of 
steps, sped down another passage, and dashed into a large 
room, followed closely by Jacques. 

' Are we safe from intrusion here }' Jacques asked. 

' Ay, ay,' gasped Renaud, as he sank into a chair exhausted. 
'The door is massive ; close it, and shoot the bolts.' 

Jacques swung the heavy door on its hinges, and then shot 
the ponderous iron bolts into their sockets. The room had 
evidently been built with a view to its being a refuge in time 
of danger. He glanced round, and noticed that arms of 
various descriptions hung upon the walls. At one end was a 
long w^indow, guarded by iron bars. But his keen eyes also 
noted that these bars were made to swing aside so as to admit 
of egress by the window, which he guessed at once was meant 
as a means of escape if the occupant of the room were hard 
pressed. 

' Where does that window lead to }' he asked. 

' On to a terrace,' Renaud answered. ' From the terrace, 
by means of a trap-door, a subterranean passage can be gained 
which will give us safe exit from the castle.' 



THE MISSION OF JACQUES S51 

Jacques smiled, but it was a smile full of scorn, and of 
deep, designing meaning ; and he muttered between his teeth, 
Mid with smothered fierceness : 

' So the hour has come at last f 



CHAPTER LXIX. 

THE MISSION OP JACQUES, AND HOW IT WAS CARRIED OUT. 

For some moments nothing further was said by either Renaud 
or Jacques. The former seemed overcome by exhaustion, and 
the latter apparently was examining the room. Then Renaud 
spoke. He said : 

' I owe thee grateful thanks ; and thou shalt find that not 
alone in words can I repay. Thou hast saved my life, and 
thy reward shall be commensurate with that great service. 
But telKme, good friend, who art thou, and wherefore hast 
thou displayetl .so much kindness towards one who is an utter 
stranger to thee ? Truly the world is filled with Samaritans 
of whom we reck but little.' 

' I have not rendered thee this service without a motive,' 
answered Jacques, as his lips curled in contemptuous scorn. 

Perhaps there was something in Jacques's tone or manner 
which caused the other sur|)rise or alarm; for arousing a little 
fnim his lethargic condition, he exclaimed quickly : 

' Ah, say you so ! And what is thy motive, gocxl friend ?' 

' Thou art a Frenchman,' Jacques obserx'ed, without answer- 
ing the question. From this Renaud was reassured, and 
replied : 

' Ay, and so art thou. I hail thee welcome as a country- 
man.' • 

' We will see later on,' .said Jacques mysteriously. ' Thy 
name is Renaud, is it not }* 

* I am the Karl of Hawksvale,' Renaud answered scornfully 
and arrogantly, and seeming in that moment to forget his in- 
debtedness and his exhaustion alike. 

' Thou art still Renaud, no matter how thou mayst gild thy- 
self over.' 

' Well, what wouUIst thou with me ?' asked Renaud with 
some warmth, for his vanity had been wounded. 

' Being Renaud, I have something to tell thee,' Jacc|ues 



352 BASILE THE JESTER 

said pointedly, and fixing his keen eyes on the other man's 
face. 

' To tell me ?' Renaud exclaimed in great surprise. 

'Ay, to tell thee,' 

' How so ? Who art thou ? and whence comest thou ?' 
Renaud asked this not without some anxiety, and he glanced 
nervously round, as something in his companion's face caused 
a feeling of alarm to come over him. 

' I come from France — from Paris,' was the answer. 'As to 
who I am, thou shalt learn anon.' He paused for a moment 
or two, then ¥dth great abruptness said: 'Thou hast left a 
wife in France.' 

The remark had the effect that a stinging blow might have 
had on Renaud. He fairly jumped in his seat, and grasping 
the arms of his chair nervously, as his white face grew whiter, 
he exclaimed with trembling voice : 

' Tis false !' 

' Where didst thou leave her, then ?' asked Jacques ironi- 
cally. 

' I left her nowhere, since I had no wife to leave,' 

' Then the woman who called herself Marie Jael had no 
claim upon thee ?' 

Renaud's self-possession returned as this question suggested 
immediately to him that the man before him had some know- 
ledge of Marie, and trading on that knowledge, had come to 
extort hush money from him. 

' Didst thou know Marie Jael ?' he asked. 

' Thou needest have no fear of Marie Jael herself,' answered 
Jacques prevaricatingly, ' unless the spirits of the dead can 
haunt the living.' 

' She is dead, then,' cried Renaud, with a great sigh of 
relief. 

' Ay,' was the monosyllabic answer, but uttered in a tone of 
smothered fierceness. 

' God rest her soul then !' cried Renaud, vdth a mock ex- 
pression of sorrow. 

' Amen to that,' returned Jacques sincerely. ' It is to tell 
thee something of Marie Jael that I am here.' 

All fear had for the moment passed from Renaud's mind. 
The information of his wife's death was welcome news to him^ 
and he did not make the slightest attempt to conceal the true 
workings of his mind. During all the years that had passed 



THE MISSION OF JACQUES 353 

since that day when he deserted her, he had been tormented 
with a fear that she would ultimately follow him, for he knew 
that she was iron-willed when thwarted, and madly (Missionate 
when aroused by jealousy. This fear, however, had ^rradually 
diminished as the years went on, until latterly he had come 
to the conclusion that she must be dead, or she would never 
have remained quiet so lon^. Now suddenly and unex- 
pectedly he had received confirmation of liis thought, and he 
accordingly rejoiced. 

' What is it thou hast to tell me ?' he asked, quite jauntily, 
and rallying from the de])ression and fear that had a little 
while ago affected him.' 

' It will be within thy memory, maybe,' said Jacques, 'not- 
withstanding all that thou hast crowded into it since then, 
that thou left thy wife in the care of thy erstwhile friend, 
one Reibell.' 

' True, true,' answered Renaud quickly. ' And he is dead, 
too?' 

' Yes.' 

' Poor devil !' exclaimed Renaud with a little laugh. 

' The Reibell thou knewest in thy youth is dead, but the 
new Reibell lives,' answered Jacques |x>intedly and enigmati- 
cally. 

' She was false to me, then ^ cried Renaud, as another 
idea struck him, namely, that she had borne a son to 
Reibell. 

The remark caused a scowl of passion and hatred to come 
into Jac(]ues's face, and striking the table heavily with his 
clenched fist, he exclaimed : 

' Mast thou no shame ? Or did shame and thee part 
company when thou became an earl ?* 

Renau<l ap|)eared to lose some of his self-confidence at the 
other's fierc*eness, and he wore the look of a man who was 
evidently puzzled, if not altogether alanned. 

' Thy remark made my question a natural one,' he ol)serve<l, 
as tr}'ing to |)alliate himself. 

' But an thy thought had been justified, thou wouldst still 
have had cause to blush, seeing that thou deserted her and 
Irft her in the hands of an adventurer.' 

' Truly he was an adventurer and a knave,' Renaud ol)* 
f»er>'ed thoughtfully. 

' An<l yet he was an honester man than thou,' said Jacques 

23 



S54 BASILE THE JESTER 

scomfiilly ; ' for he respected his trust and was £uthfiil to the 
unhappy lady.' 

' Truly then he was a marvel/ sneered Renaud sarcastically. 

' He was a man who, beneath his rough exterior, hid some- 
thing of the knight's chivalry.' ^ 

' In ver}' truth, he was a prodigy/ said Renaud mockingly. 

Then, suddenly changing his manner, and displaying anxiety 
and fear, he asked quickly, as he peered into Jacques's face : 

' Who art thou ?' 

' Rcibell !* was the answer. 

Renaud showed signs of trepidation, but quickly recovering 
himself, and summoning effrontery, of which he had an un- 
limited supply, to his aid, he exclaimed as he sprang to his 
feet and stretched forth his hand : 

' As the flowers that come after winter snows are welcome, 
so art thou welcome, old friend. Thv hand.* 

Jacques, or Reibell, drew back a little, and said with 
emph;isis that slightly startled his listener ; 

' Thou mayst have cause to change thy opiiiion before 
long.* 

* How so ?' asked the other breathlessly. 

' Resume thy seat and listen. I am the bearer of a message 
from her to thee.* 

* But she is dead,* Renaud gasped. 
'Ay ; dead these four years.' 

* Goo<l/ remarked Renaud, as he dropped into his seat with 
a chuckle of self-congratulation. ' The dead can tell no tales, 
and are not to be feared.* 

' The dead can strike through the living,' said Reibell 
fiercely. 

Renaud looked amazed and frightened, and starting forward 
in his chair, he asked, in a tone that betrayed his nervousness: 

' Com est thou here as my friend or foe ?* 

' As thy foe — thy deadly and uncompromising foe,' was the 
stem answer. 

Renaud sprang to his feet once more, and instinctively his 
hand clutched the dagger that was suspended from his belt. 

' Since thou declarest thyself so openly my foe, it were well 
to be on my guard,' he said. 

' As thou wilt,' answered the other coolly ; * but thou hadst 
best listen to what I have to tell.' 

' Be quick in thy telling, then, for time presses,' Renaud 



THE MISSION OF JACQUES 355 

replied with his old arrogance. 'I am not unmindful that 
thou hast saved my life, and I owe thee something for that 
But still I am not disposed to let thee trifle with my temper 
and my patience.' 

' Try and stretch thy |)atience out a little longer, my Lord 
of Hawksvale/ said Reibell with cutting irony. ' By-and-by 
thou wilt wish that my story had no end.' 

' I will vote thee tedious an thou dost not proceed/ Renaud 
remarked, all his fear leaving him, as he thought that it was 
simply a case of money payment which he would have to 
make. 

' I told thee just now that the old Reibell was dead, but 
the new one lived,' Reibell went on. ' That is true, for the 
Reibell thou lefl in Paris is not the Reibell thou seest before 
thee.' 

' Thou wert good-looking, but art no longer so,' said Re- 
naud, with a sorry attempt at humour. ' Thou hast dLssi{Mi- 
tion in thy face, and hast evidently outrun thy years, for thou 
art older than thou shouldst be, dear friend.' 

' My youth is buried,' answered Reil)clL 

' It is dead, that is certain,' remarked Renaud caustically 
' But where didst thou bury it, good Reibell V 

' With my heart, and that is in the grave of Marie Jael.' 

This unexpected answer, and the tone in which it was said 
changed Renaud's manner; and though he tried to conceal 
the concern he felt, it was ver}' ap|Mrent in the tone in which 
he remarked : 

' Marie Jael w&s my wife, and yet thou unblushingly con- 
fessest to having loved her.' 

' Traitor and false knave !'- exclaimed Reibell, displaying 
passion for the first time. ' It is no shame for me to confess 
that 1 loved her whom thou almndoned, but my love was 
honest and pure.' 

Renaud was frightened at this outburst and the fierceness 
of Reibell 's manner, but he made dcs|)erate efforts to hide his 
fear, and said sneeringly : 

' Thou art truly a marvel of virtue ; and rest assured an 
thou findest not thy rewanl in this wickeil world, heaven will 
give it to thee.' 

'Fool, reser\'e thy taunts, lest they recoil on thine own 
head !' cried Reibell sternly. ' When thou didst so shame- 
fully l>etray Marie Jael, and made me thy wretched tool for 



356 BASILE THE JESTER 

deceiving her, I knew nothing of her ; but when I came to 
know, I also came to wonder how thou couldst have deceived 
so angelic a woman.' 

* Well, well/ said Renaud uneasily, as the speaker paused, 
' what is the sequel of all this ?' 

' When I learnt her worth, I learnt to love her,' Reibell 
went on. 

'And of course she returned thy love ?' observed Renaud 
dryly. 

* She did return my love, thinking that thou wert dead, and 
she would have given herself to me, but / could not deceive her,' 

' I repeat, thou art truly a marvel,' said Renaud with cutting 
irony. 

' Reserve thy sneers,' cried Reibell, with a sudden outburst 
of pa.ssion, 'or, by Heaven, I'll strangle thee in thy insolence T 

Renaud quailed and shrank within himself, so to speak, for 
he was an arrant craven, and his heart was filled with fear. 
He glanced nervously towards the door, but the heavy bars 
and bolts firmly resting in their sockets convinced him that 
escape by that means was impossible. Then he turned his 
eyes towards the window, and as Reibell noticed this, he said : 

' Thou art anxious to depart If thou shouldst leave by the 
doorway, thou wouldst fall into the hands of thine enemies 
without, whose cries reach us even here as they sack thy 
castle. Thou hast said that that window gives access to 
a subterranean passage. By that means, then, thou mayest 
gain thy liberty.' 

' Let us depart then at once,' said Renaud, with nervous 
eagerness. 

* There is a condition attached to thy escape,' Reibell re- 
marked pointedly. 

* What is it ? Name it quickly.' 

* In good time thou shalt know it, I have not yet finished 
my story.' 

Renaud made a gesture of impatience, but the other, heed- 
ing him not, went on : 

' I have said that I came to love Marie Jael, and she re- 
turned that love. But her beauty and her goodness were her 
armour; and though I worshipped her, though the very 
ground she pressed with her foot was precious to me, I could 
not deceive her. I tore myself from her on the plea that 
urgent matters called me abroad. I went to the wars ; I 



THE MISSION OF JACQUES 357 

fought in Flanders anl tried to fling my life away. But 
death passed me by. I was taken prisoner at last and con- 
demned to be hung. Then came upon me an unutterable 
longing to see Marie Ja?l once more. Death I feared not, 
but 1 could not die until 1 had seen her again.' 

He pausetl, for a deep feeling of emotion had overcome him. 

' And didst thou see her }' asked Henaud im|>atiently. 

' Ay ; I killed my gaoler and escaped. I fled to Paris, but 
it was to find Marie Jael dangerously ill. Her father had 
long been dead ; most of her relations were deail, and she 
was all but alone. Tenderly I watched over her, and tried to 
woo her back to life. Ah ! how I hung u|M)n her very breath, 
watching its flickerings, and cursing the fate that kept her 
from me. She began to grow stronger, and one day said : 
'' Reibell, now that thou hast come back, I shall get better. 
Thou shalt make me thy wife when I am quite restored, and 
then I shall know nothing but happiness." I listened to her 
with aching heart, and no longer able to conceal my secret, I 
told her all. It was a fatal revelation. The shock slew her. 
But before she dietl, she laid her dying hand on me, and made 
me vow by the love I bore her that I would avenge her and 
kill thee for the wrong thou hadst done her. When 1 had 
buried her 1 intended to follow thee and fulfil my vow, but 1 
was press-ganged and sent to the wars again, and bear many 
a soar of service against the fierce Turk.' 

Renaud had grown deadly i>ale as the recital proceeded, 
and his face was now literally contorted with shrinking fear. 
But he managed to stammer out the question : 

' And why hast thou come here now ?' 

' To kill thee !' was the fierce rejoinder. 

Henaud staggered and turned livid. Tlie death he would 
•o readily have meted out to others apjialled him with name- 
less terror when turned against himself He gras|KMl his 
dagger, but it was with a |>alsied grasp ; then in piteous 
accents of ap|)eal, he whined : 

' Reil)ell, thou wert once my friend, and though thou 
mayst be mine enemy now, thou canst not surely desire to 
take my life. I will give thee wealth and |N)wer. Thou 
h&st but to demand what thou wouldst have me do, and I 
will do it, an it be |)ossible.' 

Reibell looked with unutterable scorn on the trcmbUng 
wretch, and said in a tone of burning contempt t 



858 BASILE THE JESTER 

' I would not touch thy ill-gotten gold lest it cursed me ; 
and should I fail to fulfil my vow, the ghost of the dead Marie 
would torture me into madness.' 

' But thou saidst a while ago thou wouldst let me escape on 
some condition/ Renaud moaned, and looking more like a 
galvanized corpse than a living man. 

' I did.' 

' Name the condition, then.' 

' It is that thou shouldst slay me before I slay thee.' As 
he spoke he produced a dagger and continued : ' I am no cut- 
throat, and I will kill thee in fair fight Thou art armed as I 
am myself. We will fight a duel to the death.' 

* This is madness !' Renaud gasped in horror. 

' It may be madness, but there is no way out of it' 

' Will nothing tempt thee ?' groaned the unhappy Renaud, 
as he saw his hopes wither up like a parchment scroll in a 
fire, and all his evil schemes rising up around him like mock- 
ing fiends as death hovered over him. 

' Nothing on earth,' said Reibell, with fierce resolution, as 
turning to the window he swung the bars back, threw the 
window open, and remarked : ' There is thy way of escape, 
but thou canst only escape over my dead body.' 

Taking advantage of Reibell's movement, when his back 
was turned the treacherous and craven Renaud made a dash 
at him and tried to stab him between the shoulders. But so 
clumsy was he in his excitement that before he could effect 
his purpose, Reibell had taken the alarm, and turning rapidly, 
hurled Renaud across the room with a giant's strength. 

' Stab-i'-the-dark and pitiable coward !' he hissed fiercely. 
' I gave thee a chance for thy life, but thou wouldst have 
assassinated me, and now thou shalt die an assassin's death T 

Renaud utteretl a gasping and piteous cry for mercy, but it 
passed unheeded. With a ferocity that it would have been 
ditiicult to have imagined him capable of, Reibell sprang 
upon him, and clutching his throat in his iron grip, strangled 
him to death. 

Thus ended Renaud's strange career ; thus dissolved away 
his dreams of greatness ; and thus a terrible retribution had 
come upon him in the noontide of his hfe. A few years of 
scheming and reckless indifference to truth and honesty had 
enabled him to enjoy a brief spell of Court glitter and glare. 
But for so small a thing he had paid a tremendous penalty. 



THE MISSION OF JACQUES S59 

and his terrible end was a bitter commentary on the useless- 
ness of human aspirations when undirected by a conscientious 
regard for the rights of others. He and his rival, the Earl 
of Bothwell, had, so to speak, run their careers together. 
Each hated the other with an intensity of hatred almost in- 
describable. Each longed to encompass the other s death and 
ruin ; but Chance and Fate had prevented this, though one 
lay dead now, and the other was a fugitive against whom the 
execrations of an embittered and exasperated nation were 
directed. 

Having committed the deed, Reibell rose, and for some 
moments contemplated his victim, whose face was awful in its 
expression of frozen horror. If ever a man died a craven's 
death, that man was Renaud. Reibell spumed the body with 
his foot Then he lifted it up with comparatively little effort, 
for he had the strength of a giant He threw it across his 
shoulder, and lifting the liar of the door and shooting back 
the bolts, he walked down the corridor and gained the court- 
yard, where dead men lay in their blood, and living men 
fierce with passion and wine fought like wolves for the |)os- 
session of spoil. And over the strange and sickening scene, 
the lurid glare of flickering flames cast their glow, for part of 
the castle was on fire. Reibell stood for a moment, then 
with both hands he held Renaud's corpse above his head for 
a brief instant, and hurled it down into the courtyard like 
carrion. 

' My vow is fulfilled,' he murmured ; * my mission is ended, 
and Marie Jael is revenged !' 



CHAPTER LXX. 

RETRIBUTION. 

Francois, on being rebuketl — for rebuke it was — by Jacques,set 
off with some of his friends to explore the castle in search of 
Adrienne. Excited and filled with passion, they rushed from 
room to room, and many of them, giving vent to their fury, 
wilfully and stupidly destroyed whatever they could lay their 
hands on. But this did not find Adrienne, and Francois 
became almost distracted as he thought that she had either 
been carried away or had fallen a victim to Renaud 's cruelty. 



36o BASILE THE JESTER 

In Yain did be search and cry aloud her name, until it was 
echoed and re-echoed again by the stone corridors. Still there 
was no trace of the missing lady. At last he came to a door 
that was fastened. Summoning his followers, they battered it 
in, and in the room they found half a doasen of the domestics 
huddled together, and almost paralyzed with fright They had 
taken refuge here when the attacking force had gained 
entrance into the castle, and they had been afraid to stir siiic^. 
Amongst them was Helen Macdonald, and she was the greatest 
coward of them all. 

' Where is the lady whom your tyrant master held captive ?* 
cried Fran9ois. ' Speak the truth, or, by the Virgin, you shall 
all l>e burned alive.' 

At this threat there was a chorus of whining and yelling, 
but in a few moments Helen mustered sufficient courage to 
speak, and said : 

' Spare us, good master, spare us, and thou shalt know. The 
good lady, than whom a sweeter never lived, is in the dungeon, 
whither my Lord of Hawksvale conveyed her when the castle 
was attacked.' 

' Lead the way to the dungeon instantly, hag, an thou 
wouldst preserve thy useless life,' cried Francois furiously, and 
menacing her with his sword. 

Trembling and ashen with fear, the wretched woman did as 
she was ordered, first begging for permission to light a torch, 
as the dungeon was dark. Then, followed by the clamouring 
and excited men, with Francois at their head, she guided them 
to the dungeon. But the door was found locked, as might 
have been expected, and Helen said she would go in search of 
the * master ' and get the key ; Francois, however, pushed her 
roughly on one side, and seizing a hackbut from one of his 
followers, he rained a shower of blows on the door ; but he 
might as well have battered the solid stone wall 

* A ram, a ram !' he cried. 

Instantly some of the others rushed away, while Fran9oi8, 
in his feverish impatience, continued to hack the door, but 
producing no other effect than that of exhausting his strength. 
In a few minutes his companions returned carrying a massive 
beam which they had discovered in the courtyard. By their 
united efforts this was brought into requisition as a battering 
ram, and beneath its ponderous strokes tJie door was splintered. 
Then Fran9ois snatched the torch from the trembling hands 



RETRIBUTION S6l 

of Helen, and passing through the aperture, he held the torch 
alofl, and by its glare he discovered the inanimate form of 
Adrienne prone on the ground. 

Dashing the torch down with a cry of despair, he raised her, 
and bore her out She was perfectly unconscious, and white 
as marble and cold as clay, but limp, showing that life was 
not extinct. Bearing her in his arms as if she had been the 
lightest of burdens, for excitement lent him abnormal strength, 
Francois hurried into the o|>en air, and thence he carried her 
to one of the chambers in the castle and laid her on the couch. 
A few of his comrades had followed out of curiosity, while 
the others had gone off in search of further adventure, and to 
join in the orgie and the sacking that were being carried out ; 
for the vintner's cellar had been forced, and maddened with 
wine and cognac the men were behaving more like savage 
animals. They slew everj'one of the defenders they could 
catch, and pro]>erty of value that they could not appropriate 
they wantonly destroyed. Part of the castle was already in 
flames, which, unless checked, threatened to reduce the whole 
pile of buildings to ashes. 

' Where is that woman ?* Franvois demanded. One of his 
com|)anions turned to go in search of Helen, but she, deeming 
that near Francois was the safest |)lace, had followed, and stood 
trembling on the threshold of the door. ' Use thy woman's 
skill to restore this unfortunate lady,' he said fiercely. 
'Shouldst thou fail, I'll hang thee up by the armpits and light a 
fire under thee.' 

Notwithstanding that she was almost overcome by deadly 
fear, and ready to drop, 1 1 el en proceeded to give attention to 
the insensible Adrienne. 

' IxK>k well to her,' said Francois. ' In a few minutes I 
shall return, and woe to thee if she has not recovered her 
senses.' 

He had allowed his excitement and anger to nm away with 
his reason, and iM'ing seized with the spirit of destruction that 
animated the others, he c(»uld scarcely control himself. But 
his craving to destniy tended not towards inanimate objects, 
it was directed against Ucnaud and Jaccjues. With Uenaud 
he had a long reckoning to settle, and he felt that he could 
not rest, could not contain himself, until he had exacted the 
full measure of revenge ; while with Jacques he was so ex- 
as|>eratetl that he would have slain him without any hcsitatioiL 



S62 BASILE THE JESTER 

' This expedition is mine/ he thought, ' and Jaoqaes is but an 
adventurer. By what right, therefore, has he dared to thwart 
me at the very moment when triumph seemed about to crown 
my effort ? The further outrage inflicted on Adrienne de Bois, 
and the jeopardy that her life is now placed in, demand a 
terrible reckoning, but that reckoning will be unpaid so long 
as the arch knave and impostor Renaud lives.' 

With a somewhat reckless youth whose mind was already in- 
flamed, such thoughts as these could only serve to still further 
arouse him, and the wrongs of his foster-mother made him 
determined that her wronger should not escape. 

He rushed along the corridor intending to get some of his 
band together, and then hunt Renaud and his protector down ; 
but as he approached the entrance-hall he ran against Jacques. 
The unexpected rencontre somewhat disconcerted him, but he 
quickly recovered himself, and drawing his dagger, he sprang 
u]X)n Jacques, exclaiming : 

* Thou art a traitor, and shalt die, since thou hast sought to 
save the life of Renaud, the greatest knave who has ever 
defiled the earth !' 

He had miscalculated his strength and agility, however, in 
pitting them against Jacques, who, seizing his wrists in a 
vice-like grip, said hoarsely : 

' Fool, art thou bereft of thy senses ? I had a motive in 
saving Renaud from thy fury. I could crush thee now, but 
thou art a silly youth, and I spare thee.' As he spoke he 
wrenched the dagger from Fran9ois's hand, and pushing him 
away said, * Restrain thy impetuosity ; follow me and I will 
take thee to Renaud." 

His commanding tone, his dignified manner, and a certain 
sadness in his voice, exerted an influence over Francois, who 
replied, with a feeling that he had somehow made a fool of 
himself: 

' Go on, then, I'll follow.' 

Without another word Jacques turned and retraced his steps 
to the courtyard, and going to the spot where the corpse of 
Renaud lay, with the look of petrified horror on its stony face, 
and the glassy eyes staring blankly up to the lurid heavens, 
he said as he spumed the body with his foot : 

' Behold thine enemy !' 

' Dead V ejaculated Francois in amazement, and instinctively 
Bhrinking away from the ghastly object 



RETRIBUTION S6S 

' Ay, dead/ responded Jacques mournfully. 

' But who has killed him ?' stuttered Francois, scarcely able 
to s|)eak, so great was his astonishment. 

' I killed him/ said Jacques sternly. ' I had an older score 
to reckon with him than thou hadst He foully wronged one 
who was dearer to me than all the world, and when she was 
dying she exacted from me a solemn pledge that I would 
avenge her. I accom|)anied this ex]>edition that I might fulfil 
my |)iedge. Behold the evidence that I have done so.' 

He again spumed the l)ody with his foot as he uttered the last 
words, and gazed reproachfully and reprovingly at Francois, 
who, overcome by a sense of shame, covered his face with 
his hands for a moment and seemed greatly moved. Then 
he dropped on to his knee afler the manner of a courtier, 
and, seizing Jacques's hand, he touched it with his lips, and 
said: 

' Forgive me ; I have misjudged thee. I deserve thy re- 
pniaches, and will bear with them.' 

' Rise,* Jaccjues re|)lied. ' I have no reproaches. I should 
have acted as thou hast done had I been in thy |)lace.' 

' We will meet an<»n/ said Francois, wringing the other's 
hand warmly. ' I have found my foster-mother, and lefl her 
for a moment in the care of one of the female domestics. I 
will return and remove her to a place of safety, and see thee 
again.' 

* No/ Jacques res|)on(h d ; ' we shall meet no more. My 
mission is ended. I have n(»thing further to do save to carry 
out the other half of my vow, which was to enter a monastery 
and devote myself to a life of |K'nitence when I had rid the 
world of this knave. Farewell ; while yet thy com|>anions are 
glutting themselves with carnage and [lillage, I would de|Nirt. 
Farewell. Thy way is out into the life and bustle of the 
w(»rld ; mine leads me to monastic solitude and seclusion.' 

He turned away and jMssed out of sight before Franvois 
could recover from his astcmishment, or make the slightest 
effort to stop him. For some moments Francois stood irreso- 
lute, and half inclined to follow the mysterious Jacques and 
learn more of his history. But he was aroused to the |)eril 
that threatened her for whom he had risked so much by dense 
volumes of black sm(»ke that n>lled like clouds before a storm 
wind across the ctiurtyanl. The fire in the wing of the castle 
was (tist gaining ground, and threatened the whole building 



364 BASILE THE JESTER 

with destruction. He glanced down at the dead Renaud, and 
kicking him, muttered savagely : 

' Dog, thou hast met the death thou meritedst.' 

He turned away and hurried to the apartment where he 
had \e(t Adrienne. She had recovered consciousness, under 
Helen's care, and she uttered a cry of joy as Fran<^is entered — 
a cry that he echoed, and as he threw his arms about her and 
embraced her, he exclaimed : 

* Dearest mother, thou art saved. Thy persecutor, and our 
enemy, Uenaud, has gone to his account, and his castle has 
been given to the flames. But come, let us away ; there is not 
a moment to lose !' 

Joy and fear almost overcame Adrienne, and it seemed as 
if she would swoon again. Her mind was in a state of wild 
confusion, and she almost fancied that she was the victim of 
some nightmare. She remembered that Renaud had thrown 
her into the dungeon, but from that moment there was a blank, 
and now she beheld her foster-son, and was told that Renaud 
was dead, and his castle in flames. No wonder that she 
was s|>eechless with bewilderment. In a dreamy way she 
made an effort to rise from the couch, but she was too weak, 
and fell back again. 

Without a moment's hesitation Fran9ois seized her in his 
arms and carried her out. He staggered with his burden to the 
courtyard, that was filled with masses of dense smoke, tinged 
to lurid redness by the flames, which, fanned by a high wind, 
were roaring like a blast furnace, llirough the blood-red 
smoke could be seen the dead bodies that lay about on the 
ground ; and two or three wounded men, unable to crawl 
away, and moaning piteously, added to the ghastly weirdness 
of the scene. High over head the flames leapetl as if in 
fiendish glee, sending up myriads of sparks, which, scattered 
and carried by the wind, fell like a rain of fire. Men, frantic 
with drink and excitement, were rushing about like madmen, 
with no aim or pur|)ose ; while others, laden with plunder, 
struggled along, leaving as they went a trail of tilings in their 
wake. So complete had been the wanton destruction that 
furniture had been flung out and smashed into fragments, while 
pictures had been ripped into shreds, and ruin was everywhere. 

Speechless with horror, Adrienne clung frantically to 
Franij^ois, who, tottering like a drunken man, and almost over- 
come by the dense smoke, struggled along with his burden^ 



RETRIBUTION S65 

picking his way as best he could amongst the dead bodies and 
heaps of debris of what but a short hour ago had been valuable 
property. He found his way to the gate of the castle, and 
staggered acrojis the drawbridge. When he had gained the 
other side of the moat he was overcome, and was com|K*lled 
to put Adrienne down. Fright and suffering had produced 
hysteric mania, and she was raving. Almost distracted him- 
self, he lefl her on the grass while he went in search of a horse. 
He had not gone many yards when he met some of his com- 
panions. 

' We give thee greetings, Master Francois,* they said joyfully. 

' My foster-mother is ill, nigh unto death,' he cried. ' Get 
me a horse, for the love of Heaven !' 

Some horses were tethered not far off to the trees, and one 
was speeflily brought llien Francis lifled Adrienne to the 
saddle, and mounted behind her. She was helpless as a child, 
and he had to hold her tightly in his anns. 

'Whither goest thou, good Francois .^' asked one of his friends. 

' To Berwick, to place my foster-mother in safety. Were it 
not for her sake, I would not leave you. Look to yourselves, 
and Heaven preserve you.' 

He put his horse to the gallop, casting a l(N)k back at the 
blazing castle. In a few moments he reined in his steed, for 
a man had stepped suddenly out from a clump of trees. It 
was one of the l>and, and n*cognising Francois, he said : 

' Hail, g(Mxl Fran^>is ! But we have Inren badly treated, for 
we have enjoyed none of the fun that h&s been going on there,' 
pointing to the castle. 

' What hast thou l>een doing, then ?' Fran^ns asked. 

' My comrade and I have been keeping watch and wani over 
the prisoner we took this morning.' 

' Thou meanest Bastian ?' 

' Ay, he tells us that is his name !* 

' Where is he now }* 

* Still lashed to the tree as he was when the castle was 
attacked.' 

' Kill him ! kill him !' crii^l Franvois, ' for he is a reptile. I 
go to place this unfortunate lady in safety.' Once more he 
urged his horse into a g>dlop, and was soon out of sight 

Then the man rejoineil his companion, and told him what 
Franvois had said. 

Bastian^ writhing with i>ain, and his ugly face contorted with 



366 BASILE THE JESTER 

fury, was fastened finnly to the trunk of a pine-tree, and so 
tightly had the cords been lashed around him that they had 
cut into his flesh. 

The two men who had kept guard over him were only too 
glad to be relieved of their responsibility, and one of them said 
mockingly : 

* Thy time has come, sweet youth. We have orders to kill 
thee !• 

A look of unutterable fear came into the wretched Bastian's 
face as this was said, and he made a piteous appeal for mercy. 

* Wherefore shouldst thou kill me ?' he exclaimed. ' How 
and in what way have I injured thee?' 

' Thou wouldst have killed us an thou hadst the chance,' 
growled the man who had spoken to Francois. 

' Nay, I vow that thou art in error, friend,' whined Bastian. 
' I did but come out to try and seize one Francois, who is the 
veriest knave living. Therefore spare me, sweet sir.' 

' Thou liest, thou poltroon,' exclaimed the other soldier 
angrily. ' Say thy prayers, for thy hour has come.' 

The man, who was armed with a cahver, raised it as he 
spoke and examined the priming, whereat Bastian's eyes 
almost started from his head with terror, and he uttered such 
a shrill, piercing shriek that it reverberated through the forest 
with a startling echo. The next instant the man put his caliver 
to his shoulder, and, taking deliberate aim, fired, shattering 
l^tian's skull and blowing his brains out The lifeless body, 
still held by the ropes to the trunk of the tree, presented such 
a ghastly spectacle that the two men themselves turned away 
horrified, and rushed off to join their friends in completing the 
ruin and razing of Hawksvale Castle, and Bastian's remains 
were destined to hang there for many and many a long day, 
until the rope, rotten with wet and exposure, gave way, and 
allowed the fleshless lK>nes to crumble in a heap on the ground, 
where they were gradually buried out of sight by the falling 
leaves. So perished the master and man ; both of them in 
the full vigour and robustness of life, but both of them such 
unscrupulous knaves that the terrible retribution that befell 
them was truly merited. 

The castle of Hawksvale was completely razed to the 
ground, and the body of the first and last Elarl of Hawksvale 
was consumed to cinders by the burning beams that fell into 
the courtyard. For long years the blackened ruins stood 



LIGHTS AND SHADES WOVEN IN THE WOOF 361 

ghostly and spectral in their h)neliness. The s|x>t came to be 
regarded as haunted, and it was shunned like a pestilence. 
Gradually the ruins crumbled down, and the kindly grass and 
wild flowers in the fulness of time couvertetl them into a green 
mound, and hid away for ever from human ken every trace of 
tlie stronghold of Hawksvale and its knavish and recreant earl. 



CHAPTER LXXI. 

IN THE WOOP WERE WOVEN LIGHTS AND SHADES. 

Francois pursued his way to Berwick with the half-unconscious, 
and as he thought, dying Adrienne de Bois. It w&s a terrible, 
nightmare sort of journey, during which his mind was haunted 
with vague fears, and he suffered fn)m almost unbearable 
mental distress. The dreadful thought that his foster-mother 
would die on the n>ad filled him with the wildest alarm. 
Occasionally he had to sto|) and rest at roadside hostelries or 
lonely farms, and naturally he became an object of wonder and 
suspicion. Utterly prostrated and speechless, Adrienne was 
unable to give any explanation, and he was consequently 
suspected of bearing her off against her will. At one place the 
people tried to detain him, and he only got away by strategy. 

So on he went on his weary journey, straining his eyes 
eagerly for Bern-ick, ' where,' he thought, ' my sweet foster- 
mother will be cared for by the man she loves, and will find in 
Basile a comfort and a treasure. For all the care thou hast 
bestowed on me, Basile, 1 have given thee a wife, and hence- 
forth I follow the Queen's fortunes, or fling myself away in 
the wars.' 

At last, when it seemed as if his strength of mind and Ixxly 
could hold out no longer, he hkIc slowly with his bunlen into 
the town of Berwick, lie had timed himself to reach his 
destination as the shades of evening were dee|)ening, so that 
he might not attract attention. Adrienne had lM*gun to show 
alarming symptoms, and rambled int*olierently. It was evident 
the was in a raging fever, and he hcavetl a great sigh of relief 
as he reined in his jaded horsi* In^fore the h«>spitable door of a 
hostel, where for the present he resolved to IcKlge Adrienne, until 
he could make other arrangements. She was received by kindly 
bands, and it was at once seen that she was in a dangerous 



S68 BASILE THE JESTER 

condition from brain fever. The suffering and persecution she 
had endured, added to the excitement and fright, had told upon 
her, and thrown her into a serious illness. When Fran<^is 
had seen her well bestowed, and had procured a nurse and a 
leech, he set off* in search of Basile ; but as the magnet turns 
to the pole, so he turned first of all to the house of old Bomcester, 
where, when he received the last news, Lilian was still living 
with dear Aunt Julie. He would scarcely have been a youth 
and a lover if, afler his prolonged absence, and the dangers he 
had gone through, he had not thought of her who held his 
heart. For though he had almost entirely abandoned hope of ever 
obtaining her, his heart was with Lilian, as it ever would be. 

He resolved upon going boldly to the house, trusting that 
the old fanatic was still in Edinburgh, so that he might be 
able to obtain an interview with his lady love. It was with 
somewhat conflicting emotions, and even with misgivings, that 
he approached the portals of Bomcester s residence and 
inquired for Aunt Julie. He was admitted by an old domestic, 
who was a stranger to him, and, afler some parleying, she led 
him to the reception-room, while she went in search of her 
mistress. He waited so long that suspense had become almost 
unbearable, and his patience had well-nigh reached its 
extremest limit But at last Aunt Julie presented herself, 
looking a little scraggier, a little sourer, and with the 
inevitable Bible still under her ann. 

' Verily, the ways of the Lord are marvellous !' she ejaculated 
in surprise. 'Thou comest like one from the tomb. We 
have had rumours of thee, and they were that thou liadst been 
killed ; and next, that thou were ta'en prisoner with the 
Queen's Majesty.* 

' Her Majesty a prisoner ?' he cried, fairly staggering as if 
from a blow, so startling was the news. 

' Why, boy, art thou daft ? or hast thou really been buried 
and come to life again ? Surely one or the other, since thou 
knowest not the news that all the land is ringing with.* 

* The Queen a prisoner !' he could only rei>eat, in dazed and 
sorrowful amazement 

' Ay, by my faith ! Have thy wits left thee } or hast thou 
been in some heathen country, where news travelleth not ?' 

'Good Julie, chide nie not,' he said piteously. ' For many 
days 1 have been absent from the capital, and engaged in 
rescuing my dear foster-mother from the hands of a knave. 



LIGHTS AND SHADES WOVEN IN THE WOOF 369 

But tell me all the news. Sayest thou the Queen is a 
prisoner ? Nay, it cannot be true. They would not dare to 
lay their hands u|Mm her sacred person.' 

'Thou art an unbeliever/ exclaimed Aunt Julie haughtily^ 
as thoup^h she wjis a little offended that her word had been 
doubted. 'The Lord is mighty and just, and scattereth His 
enemies, and the Queen has fallen before His wrath. The 
nobles have taken the crown from her head, and imprisoned 
her in Lochleven Castle.' 

' Alas ! alas ! |)oor Queen !' Francois moaned in such dis- 
tressful tones that Aunt Julie was touched, and, going to him, 
she smoothed his curly hair with her skinny fingers, and said 
S(M)thingly : 

* Sweet iMjy, sweet boy, though thou art a heretic, thou art 
to be pitied ! Thou wert ever faithful to the Queen, but she 
will be a queen no longer, and can give thee no recom^K^nse. 
But hast thou no inquiry for one to whom thou swore lover's 
oaths }* 

'Thou meanest Lilian,' he said sadly. 'Tell me of her, 
go<Kl Julie, for my weary heart hungers for news.' 

' She gcK's well, and I will tell thee this in confidence, I 
have sometimes detected her in sighs — sighs for thee.' 

' Sayest thou so }* he cried joyfully. 

' By my faith, but thy groans have soon turned to smiles !' 
Aunt Julie remarked. 

' Nay, mock me not, I pray thee, and kee|) me not in torture. 
Thou knowest well that joy and sorrow are woven in a piece, 
and while 1 can weep for my fallen (jueen, I can rejoice at 
the news that my sweetheart loves me still. Go on^ Aunt 
Julie. Tell me more, I beseech.* 

'Nay, I have little but what is bad to tell thee,' Julie 
remarked, with a long-drawn sigh that resembled the wind 
whistling among withered ru>hes. * My |Kx>r brother lies sick 
unto death.' She |Miused to wipe away an imaginary tear, 
and then she added, with another sigh, but which was more 
suggestive of a feeling of delight : ' The liord's will be done. 
We are but instruments in His hands. An it pleaseth Him to 
take my dear brother i shall resign myself to the |Mirting, 
though in truth it will be a sore blow, a sore blow.' She 
whisked away several imaginary tears this time, and grnaned 
A rusty groan that almost bnmght a smile to Franvois\s li|)s. 

* Where is thy brother lying ^ he asked. 



370 BASILE THE JESTER 

' WJiere else should he lie but here, and be under my care ? 
He fell ill in Edinburgh afler the Queen was brought back 
from Borthwick, and feeling that his end was drawing nigh he 
travelled slowly here. He hath often asked about thee. 
Nay, I vow that I am jealous, for he concerns himself more 
al>out thee than me.' 

Francois took the skinny hand of the old woman between 
his own, and, patting it coaxingly, s<*ud : 

'Be not jealous, dear Aunt Julie. Thy brother hath but 
little love for me. But canst thou not show that thou at least 
hast no hate by letting me have a glimpse of Lilian's sweet 
face ?• 

'Thou art a wicked rogue,* returned Aunt JuHe, display- 
ing a tendency to fall into his arms. 'Where didst thou 
learn thy wheedling ways } I vow thou art irresistible. Thou 
shalt have a glimpse of the maiden's face. In truth, it is a 
sweet face, and I marvel not that thou shouldst love it. Tide 
thee here with patience, and I will bring her to thee, and 
inform my brother thou art arrived.* 

' Nay, Aunt Julie,' he exclaimed quickly, ' would it not be 
better that thou shouldst not disturb thy brother. Let me 
have but one quiet interview with Lilian to say farewell for 
ever.* 

' And whither goest thou }* exclaimed the old woman with 
amazement. 

' 1 go to follow the Queen. An she is a prisoner, so will I 
be also,* he replied. 

' Thy fidelity deserveth a rich reward,* Aunt Julie returned. 
'Thou shalt see Lilian anon, even though it be but to say 
farewell.' She hobbled out of the room, leaving him agitated 
and excited, and wondering what all this was tending to and 
what his future would be. 

A (juarter of an hour passed, though it seemed to him a long, 
dreary and heavy hour. Then the door was gently opened, 
and the angular head and shoulders of Aunt Julie presented 
themselves, and in a few moments the rest of her bixly came 
in view, while behind her was Lilian, looking more beautiful 
than ever, if that were |K)ssible, in spite of an expression of 
care and anxiety that clouded her sweet face. She moved for- 
wartl with a modest downcast look, and Franyois, waiving all 
ceremony, sprang towards her and enfolded her in his arms. 

' Marry, but thou art a for^-ard youth/ cried Aunt Julie with 



LIGHTS AND SHADES WOVEN IN THE WOOF 871 

affected indignation ; * and as for thee, minx, thou art wanting 
in maidenly bashfulness. I vow that when I was thy age I 
rushed not so into a young man's arms.' 

The sweet creature might as well have chided the air, for 
the young couple heeded her not. In that moment of their 
reunion they were oblivious of all surroundings. But presently, 
when the first transports were over, Lilian said : 

' Nay, auntie, be not severe. Let me enjoy one glint of 
sunshine in my generally sunless life.' 

* Ah, well,' sighed auntie, as if to herself, ' thou art a 
woman and must e'en do as women do.' Then, speaking more 
loudly, she added, ' But be careful, child ; men are deceivers 
alL lliey toy with a woman's heart only to break it. Heigho ! 
mine was broken very early.' 

* Poor dear auntie !' said Lilian, scarcely able to restrain a 
smile, ' I thought that thy heart had been too tough to fall a 
prey to man's deception.' 

' Go to, thou jade, thou dost but mock me,' cried Aunt 
Julie, waving her off with a stately flourish of her bony, 
mittened arms. ' But get thy billing and cooing done quickly. 
I will to thy father, and return within a quarter of an hour to 
dismiss that bold and saucy youth.' She sailed out of the 
room, much to the gratification of the lovers, who spent the 
next few minutes in speechless caresses. 

If Fran9ois had even for a single moment doubted that 
Lilian loved him, all doubt must have vanished now, as, over- 
come with a sense of delicious pleasure, she laid her head on 
his breast, and allowed him to encircle her waist with his 
arms, and press warm kisses on her upturned face. But feel- 
ings found words at last, and they told their love as lovers 
have ever told it, and very briefly and hurriedly Fran9ois re- 
counted his adventures since last he parted from her. And 
when he had finished she said : 

' Poor Francis ; thou hast suffered much, and the loss of 
thy friend Basile must have sorely pained thee.' 

' The loss of Basile !' he cried, starting in alann. ' What 
dost thou mean ?' he asked in breathless agitation. 

She in turn felt alarmed, as she saw that he was in ignoran(*e 
of what she alluded to, and it was only on his pressing her 
for explanation that she said : 

' I am sorry I should be the flrst to tell thee, but it must be 
told. Poor Basilc's body was found in the river, and they say 



S72 BASILE THE JESTER 

that he killed himself through unrequited love, for at his 
lodgings he had left a paper on which was written, "Adnatme, I 
die for thee** And yet they say that men have no hearts,' 
she added with a gentle sigh. 

It was a terrible shock to Francois ; it affected him deeply, 
and covering his face with his hands, he gave way to emotion 
that found vent in tears. 

' Poor Basil e ! poor Basile!' he moaned. 'In thee I have 
lost the truest friend I ever had. But wherefore didst thou 
drown thyself.^ — for ray foster-mother loved thee! Alas! it is 
one raore crime to be added to the list of many which 
the knave Renaud was guilty of. And with thee dies the 
secret of ray birth, and I can never hope now to learn who I 
ara, or aught of the father who begot me,* Then suddenly 
he turned to Lilian and exclaimed, ' Lilian, I ara but an out- 
cast, a something to be despised, and am unworthy of thee.' 

' Thou ratest thyself too severely,' was her gentle answer, 
as she twined her arms about his neck to comfort him. 

' Odds bodkins !* exclaimed Aunt Julie, entering at the 
moment ' Hast thou no shame, child, that thou canst em- 
brace that silly youth in such a fashion } Come, thy father 
wishes thy presence. Get thee gone, young man, for the hour 
grows late ; and I am charged by ray brother to tell thee that 
to-morrow night, at eight o' the clock, thou canst come to his 
chamber, and he will give thee some good advice.* 

Once more embracing Lilian, and even kissing the parch- 
ment cheek of Aunt Julie, much to that dear soul's amaze- 
ment and delight, notwithstanding that she exclaimed in tones 
of injured virtue, ' Was there ever such impertinence ?' 
Franvois took his departure, his brain in a whirl, and joy and 
sorrow struggling for the master}'. 

He hurried l)ack to the hostel, where he learned that his 
foster-mother was verj' ill and delirious. He passed the night 
in broken and feverish sleep, filled with fantastic dreams, and 
whenever he awoke it was to see in imagination, in the dark- 
ness of his room, the dear form of Lilian, and the drooping 
body of poor drowned Basile ; and ever in his brain, as he 
dozed off again, ran the pitying thought, ' Why didst thou 
drown thyself? — for Adrienne loved thee !* 

The following day was scarcely less weary than the night 
had been. The hours seemed leaden-weighted, and spiritless 
and restless he wandered from place to place^ learning from tli<; 



LIGHTS AND SHADES WOVEN IN THE WOOF C>73 

gossips all the details of Basile's death, and of the Queen's 
imprisonment by her subjects. At one moment there came 
upon him a strong impulse to rush off to Edinburgh and offer 
his services to the captive Queen ; and the next the voice of 
love cried out, 'Stay/ and the voice of duty, 'Thy foster 
mother neetls thee/ So he alternated throughout the day, 
until night brought him some relief, and as eight was chiming 
by the bells he found himself at Bomcester's house, and 
without seeing either Aunt Julie or Lilian he was ushered by 
the domestic into the old man's bedchamber. Bomcester was 
prop]>ed up with pillows in a great chair. His hair had be- 
come snowy white, and his unkempt and grizzled lieard 
added to the ghastliness of his face, which was sunken and 
haggard with |)ain and disease, while his eyes seemed to glow 
with an unnatural light 

' I give thee greeting, young man,' he said in a hollow, husky 
voice. ' I have prayed to the Lortl to send thee to me l>efore 
I died, and He has answered my prayer. The sands of my 
life run rapidly out, and I am about to enter into my eternal 
rest. I am glad that it is so, for I am weary. Life is a 
passion and a disease, and death is the cure.' 

A fit of painful coughing deprived him of breath, and it was 
some time before he recovered sufficiently to proceed. When 
he could again speak, it was obvious the attack had left him 
weaker. 

' Listen,' he said. ' Thou hast professed love for my child ; 
and since thou hast rendered me some service and saved me 
once from the fury of Bothwell's brutal soldiers, I would mark 
my sense of thy conduct by giving thee Lilian for thy wife '^ 
Francois's heart quickened its beats, and his breath came in 
jerks — 'but thou must ch<N>se between her and the Queen. 
Thou art aware that her Majesty has fallen, and I predict she 
will never rise again. The Lord's wrath h^is beaten her down, 
as it will beat down all those who do evil and cling to her 
idolatrt>us faith. Turn from the wnith thert*fore. Embrace 
the new faith, and I will give thee a fortune and my child.' 

He paused, and fixed his burning eyes on the youth's face 
to watch the effect of his s|>eech. Fran9ois endured a terrible 
struggle with himself, for he knew now that the moment had 
come when he must declare for love or Queen. Hut ai last 
the conviction came upon him that his duty to the Queen had 
ended. She was a captive in the hands of her enemieS| and 



374 BASILE THE JESTER 

how could he, a friendless, powerless youth, hope to be of snj 
service to her now ? So love conquered, and bowing his head 
as if he still felt a sense of shame, he said : 

' I accept the conditions, for love's sake.' 

A look of triumphant joy lighted up the fanatic's pallid 
features, and stretching forth his trembling hand, he dragged 
a small-wheeled table, on which lay a large open Bible, nearer 
to him, and exclaimed in breathless tones : 

' Come hither. Lay thy hand upon this blessed book, and 
say as I say. " By this holy book I swear to embrace the re- 
formetl faith, to be a good and staunch Protestant, and sustain 
and uphold the new doctrine in the face of persecution and 
trials, let them be ever so heavy ; and I further swear to be a 
loyal and true and faithful loving husband to Lilian Bomcester, 
as I hope for God's mercy." ' 

Francois repeated the words in a clear and distinct voice, 
and when he had finished, the old man seized his hand and 
cried: 

' I have brought thee into the fold. The Lord watch over 
thee. I greet thee as my son.* Overcome by the effort he 
had made, he sank back exhausted and gasped for breath, but 
presently he muttered in broken sentences : ' Go — go — I have 
finished. We shall meet no more on this side of the grave. 
My fortune and Lilian are thine. Use them welL Farewell, 
farewell.' 

Francois turned away and lefl the chamber, feeling like one 
who walked in a dream. He fain would have sought Lilian 
then, but the old domestic met him on the stairs and showed 
him to the door, and he, being like one who was swayed by 
an influence which had thoroughly subjected him, uttered no 
word, but |)assed out into the dark street, and wandered down 
to where the many-voiced sea was sounding hoarsely. There, 
baring his heated brow to the cold, salt breezes, he sat down 
to collect his scattered thoughts and calm his agitated mind. 

Franij'ois never saw Bomcester again, for in two days from 
that eventful night the old fanatic lay dead. And more than 
three weeks passed before he was once more permitted to 
clasp his affianced wife to his breast, as, in the early days of 
her sorrow for her father's death, Lilian secluded herself; for, 
strange and eccentric as he was, she was devotedly attached 
to him. 

During those three weeks Francois devoted himself to his 



LIGHTS AND SHADES WOVEN IN THE WOOF 875 

foster-mother, watching and tending her with all the solici- 
tude of a dutiful and affectionate son. When she was con- 
valescenty he acquainted her with his good fortune ; and 
afler she had congra'.ulated him and chided him greatly for 
renouncing the faith in which he had been brought up, she 
inquired for news of Basile. Then, with heavy heart, he told 
her what had occurred. * The news fell with cruel force u|)on 
her, and it was some time before she was able to express her 
thoughts : 

' Poor Basile !' she moaned. ' God rest his soul ! In him 1 
have lost one who would have been a tender husband, for he 
died of love for me, and thou art now an oq)han/ 

' An orphan !' cried Francois, as the truth suddenly dawned 
upon him. 

' Ay, an oq>han, for Basile was thy father !' 

Francis bowed his head and wept, and in a flood of memory 
came back all the thousand kindnesses and solicitudes that 
Basile had displayed towards him, and he understood it all 
now. But the poor Jester's voice was stilled, his kindly heart 
ctild in the coldness of death ; and Francois could only weep 
and weep again : for some, sorrow can find no other vent save 
tears. 

Six months later Lilian Bomcester became his wife, and in 
the new life and new state that opened up before him he 
found an abiding joy. The shadows of the \wst would never 
|>ass away, but the brightness of the future would soflen them. 

Aunt Julie did not long survive her brother, while Adrienne 
de Bois, bn>ken-hc'arted and weighted with a sense of great 
weariness, went Iwick to the (Jueen, and for twenty-two long 
years shared her cruel captivity, until the shameful trage<ly of 
Fotheringay crushed her ; and within a month she had fol- 
lowed her lieloved n>yal mistress to ' where the wicked cease 
from troubling and the wear^' are at rest.' 



THB KHJk 



NEW AMSTERDAM BOOfC COMPANY'S UST 

UNDER SEALED ORDERS 

By grant AI.LEN 

Author of **The Woman Who Did,*' " The Great TdlxM^' 

" Domareaq's Daughter," etc 

i2mo, paper* handiomely iUnstntted, 50 cents ; cloth, fi.^ 



The Literary Worlds of I/>ndoii, comments as follows : 

" The book is, of course, very well written. The charmc- 
tem are well drawn, and s.me of them very charming ; and 
the touches of foreign life in Morocco and Russia have the 
pictnresqueness and accuracy one would expect from a man 
who, in his scientific writings, has appealed to Darwin and 
Herbert Spencer with his ability, and to thousands of read- 
ers with his readability.' 



t» 



OTHER REVIEWS 

" * Under Sealed Orders * is a first-class story of adventnre, and as 
it is written by a man of real intelligence and wide knowled|^ it pos- 



qualities which lift it above the ordinary story of its class. 
It is full of incident, of plot and counterplot. There is plenbr of love 
in it, too. In short, Mr. Allen has given us another tboroofrnly good 
tale of action and plot, such as we have often had from him before.** — 
speaker^ I^ondon. 

** The reader need not fear to find ansrthing but very capital enter- 
tainment in ' Under Sealed Orders.' It is one of its authorNi most in- 
teresting stories. For a story which is bright and readable all through, 
much thanks.** — Spectator^ Condon. 

** I^ike all that Mr. Grant Allen writes, the book is packed full of 

knowledge of men and manners. A striking story, full of 

moving incident and charming people one is glad to have met.**— .Stor, 
London. 

** The idea .... is thoroughly original, and carried out with 

striking force and power The story is strong throughout, 

managed with care and thought and delicate purpose which are not the 
rule among the novelists of the present day, and growing stronger and 
deeper as it reaches its close." — Guardian^ Manchester. 

" * Under Sealed Orders * is written on robust, brecxy, old-fashioned 
lines of exciting incident and romantic adventure . . . full of the 
healthy zest of life. ... In sheer strength of style, * Under Sealed 
Orders * reaches a level of vivid and clever exp r essi on not common in 
the majority of novels.**— ^^^flb Mercury^ I«onaon. 



NEW AMSTERDAM BOOK COMPANY'S LIST 

SEVEN FROZEN SAILORS 

By GEORGE MANVILLE FENN 

Assisted by COMPTON RBADE, F. ARCHER, and others 

lUustratcd by A. BURNHAM SHUTE 
Square x6mo, cloth, 75 cents 

The Detroit Free Press reviews this work as follows : 

** George Manville Penn fttmishes a rousing tomance of the tea in 
* Seven Proxen Sailors,' which has a Munchauaen-like flavor that is de- 
cidedly entertaining in its copious drafts upon our credulity. Captain 
Cookson, a crew of jolly tars, and the fat owner of a stanch steamer 
who *trod her decks like an active tub.* set sail for the North Pole. 
Their first adventure is a hair-lifting one. They sail over the sub- 
merged portion of an iceberg, are lifted upon it as it tolled over and 
left two hundred feet in the air, perched on an even keel in a narrow 
V-ahaped valley running steeply down to the sea. Pour days they 
stay high and dry on the top of the berg, then the melting ice releases 
the vessel, which launches itself down this inclined plane, and, after 
plunging down a sheer descent of forty feet darted into the depth of 
the ocean to emerge like a diving bird half a mile astern of the berg, 
a little wet, to be sure, but quite uninjured. Por the first chapter this 
is really very good. Arrived at the Polar Zone they encounter cold that 
freexcs quicksilver into bullets, with which they kill bears, and here 
chop the first froxen sailor out of his icy overcoat, thaw him out and 
he spins a 3ram about his adventures with I«ascars in * The Bay of 
Biscay, O,* and is then resolved into his original constituenta— the 
residue consisting of a rusty knife and a tobacco box— empty, of 
cotirse. The other f roxen sailors, who are conveniently at hand wait- 
ing to be chopped out, are of differing nationalities, and often telling a 
characteristic story of their careers, make exit in the fashion of the 

first** 

OTHER REVIEWS 

*' * Seven Proxen Sailors * is certainly a title possessing enough orig- 
inality to arouse one*s curiosity. The idea is unique, and the seven 
sturiot, each by a different author, form an interesting mosaic of 
imaginative literature. . . . The reading public seems to crave 
something new. and here is a volume, not cumbersome, but of modest 
aixe, that will, no doubt, prove attractive.*'— i?tvrx Saturday^ Blgin, 111. 

** The old saying, 'Too many cooks spoil the broth,' does not hold 
true in this instance, for the little book is really enjoyable.**— Jl»«te« 



NEW AMSTERDAM BOOK COMPANY^S UST 

In Us Twelfth Thousand 

THE COPSFORD MYSTERY 

Or, Is He The Man ? 
By W. CLARK RUSSELL 

Author of •• The Wreck of the Grosvenor," "An Ocean 
Free Lance/* ''A Sea Queen," etc. 

Illustrated by A. Burnham Shuts 
i2mo, cloth, superbly bound, |x.a5 ; paper, 50 oenta. 

"The Copsford Mystery; or, Is He the Man?*' is by 
W. CUu*k Russell, whose name at once suggests rolling bil- 
lows and dashing spray. But this is not a sea tale and is the 
only story not of the sea that he has written. Save in the 
first chapter, when we are introduced to a girl who is in the 
habit of rowing, off Broadstairs, and who gets carried out to 
sea by the tide, and is rescued by a dark-browed, sun-burnt, 
but handsome man, there is nothing of the sea in it. She is 
a high-strung, strong-willed girl. It is a case of love at first 
^ght, and they marry. Then there is more and more 
troublCf endine in a m3r5tery, and finally a tragedy. The 
construction oftlie story is more like Doyle than Russell, 
but it resembles the latter*s sea stories in its careful attention 
to detail. There is also careful delineation of character. In 
an introduction is an interesting sketch of Russell and his 
writines, and the book has full-page illustrations by A. Bom- 
ham Shute and others. 

UNIFORM WITH THE ABOVE 

/» lis Seventh Thouiand 

AN OCEAN FREE LANCE 

By W. CLARK RUSSELL * 
Illustrated by Harry L. V. Parjshurst 

i2mo, cloth, $1.35 ; paper, 50 cento. 

This dashing romance of the sea is held by some readent 
to contain Mr. Russell's best work. In it will be found the 
oft-quoted description of a naval engagemenL 



i 



^H^B^^^^^^^H 




Cbe netberland Cibrary ^ 




IlluUiiileJ hy llie LcnJinK ArlUUi ^^M 




I Paper, 5«c.: Ctotli, Si.SS ^^| 




1 _l 

Ifnlon of the Moon. ''■^I^^H 

to Llfr.- Xr. MiivrMv 'P^^^^^^l 


^H 


The Copsford ^^ <^^^^| 


^H 


3.-A Hnsband'« Ordeal. "^^^^H 


^H 


3.— An Oemn Free Uuice. < /^ntrti aAWm^-^^^H 


^H No. 


4.— The 5hji(low or Hilton Fernbnmk. i 7V^7a^t 


^H 


5.— Under Seal«d Orders. '"^^ 


^H 


,.( jjglgj^H 




;,^^^| 


^H 


7.— A :Mn of Ishmael. "O^^^^H 

T. M'XV*. nallllH of lit Kflntur - 'ne^^^^^H 
!ial<Umif FcftBXr." He III<i>£t>« -.. M^^^^H 


^H 


(.,15; P"V*'. V ---■-:■■ ^^H 


■ .g 




new JtmsterOdn Book eompany ^M 




J 






* • 



Thij book Bhould bo rvcuraod 
tb« XdbTArr on or boforo tbp last date 
ktampttd bAlow. 

A flnii t>r live oODla « day in muiimd 
by rotslnitig It bernttd Uia ■psolflad 
Urn*. 

Plflftse return promptly.